Lawmakers considering changes to Ky. Safe Haven law
A new proposal would give mothers more time to decide whether to leave their babies.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Giving mothers more time to make a crucial, life changing decision is the idea behind a proposal to change Kentucky's Safe Haven Law.
A bill filed by a Louisville lawmaker would extend the time that mothers could leave their unwanted children at places such as Kosair Children’s Hospital.
The Safe Haven Law allows mothers to hand over unwanted newborns up to 3-days-old at hospitals, police, fire and EMS stations -- no questions asked -- as long as there is no sign of abuse.
Rep. Tom Burch's proposal would extend the age limit from three days to 30 days.
“Sometimes a woman needs more time to think about these types of things. particularly, a single mom. I just thought this was a better way to do it,” Burch told WDRB News.
Since the law passed in 2002, 37 newborns have been left at Safe Haven locations such as Kosair Children’s Hospital.
Child Advocate Erika Janes says most surrounding states already allow for older children; Indiana offers up to 45 days and Missouri -- up to a year.
“Once that baby gets here, things change so dramatically within that mom's body. There has to be more time to make such a life changing decision,” she said.
There is also a proposal to add churches to the Safe Haven program.
Burch says that does present a challenge.
“Churches are not open every day, and they're not open at night time. Only a few of them have day care,” he said.
But Burch believes a compromise can be worked out.
Janes says if the program expands to churches, she wants to make sure staff members are properly trained.
“You can't just drop the baby off. You have to hand the baby to a person and then that person's requirement is to get that baby to the emergency room to be checked out,” said Janes.
The bill would still allow mothers to change their minds within 30 days of leaving the child and seek to have parental rights restored.
The House Health and Welfare Committee could vote on the bill as early as next week.
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