HARRISBURG (June 22, 2021) Sen. Michele Brooks’ legislation to add urgent care centers to the list of locations where a parent in distress can safely surrender their newborn has passed the Senate by a unanimous vote.
Senate Bill 305 expands current law, which in 2017, added emergency medical responders to the list of caregivers who are authorized to accept newborns relinquished by a parent in distress. Many surrounding states also allow unharmed babies to be handed over safely and without fear of prosecution to any health care facility, and this bill mirrors that trend, Brooks noted.
“We have all heard tragic stories about mothers who were alone and afraid when they gave birth, and who then made the decision to abandon their baby or deposit their newborn in a public trash can or other tragic place,” Brooks said. “This legislation aims to ultimately save our smallest and most innocent lives. More than 7,000 urgent care centers now operate nationwide, and most can be found within a ten-mile radius of nearly every town in Pennsylvania.”
Staffed by trained medical personnel, urgent care centers would be another safe place that could accept newborns, broadening the list of currently designated caregivers, which already includes hospitals, police stations and emergency medical technicians.
Safe Haven Laws, or “Baby Moses” Laws, have been passed in numerous states since the 1990s after a string of infanticide cases in the Midwest. This bill and similar laws are designed to decriminalize the leaving of an unharmed infant with a responsible caregiver, protecting infants from harm by providing a warm, secure haven for them when a parent cannot care for a child.
According to USA TODAY, from 1999 to October 2013, 2,138 children have been relinquished nationwide under the Baby Safe Haven laws. (Oct. 12, 2013).
Brooks’ bill will now be sent to the House of Representatives for their consideration.
Contact: Diane McNaughton (717) 787-1322 firstname.lastname@example.org