SAFE HAVEN: Iowa Law Saves A Life

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In 2001 an Eastern Iowa teenager killed her newborn child. To prevent that from ever happening again the state adopted the "Safe Haven Law". Once again, the law has saved another life.

On May 12th a healthy baby boy was born in an Iowa hospital. Immediately after the birth the mother decided to give him up for adoption. Because of the safe haven law she was able to, no questions asked.

The safe haven law allows parents to give up their new born, 14 days old or younger, up for adoption, no questions asked, no charges filed.

“Many of us have family we can call or a husband or wife that can come and say let me take over for a bit. But there are people who don`t have those resources,” said Dr. Thomas McAulif, the Medical Director for Mercy’s Children Emergency Center.

Since the law went into effect about a decade ago, 15 babies have been declared "safe haven children."  The parents are only asked to provide a brief medical history, and the rest is in the hands of the experts.

“If a baby is left, first thing we do is a medical screening. Make sure the baby is healthy, make sure there are no signs of illness or injury and we provide a place of safety,” said Dr. McAulif.

“It’s not the preferred way to handle an unwanted pregnancy or surprise pregnancy. Obviously the first thing to do would be to council with people close to you and get the proper prenatal care and arrange for an adoption,” said Roger Munns, with the Iowa Department of Human Services.

However, just because this option is chosen doesn't mean it's set in stone.

“It`s a safety net. The fear of 'if I leave my baby I will never see my baby again.' So the fear should never stop a parent from bringing the baby to a safe environment,” said Dr. McAulif.

“We always wait several days to make sure there’s no issue of mother regret. There have been in the past,” said Munns.

The baby born May 12th is now in a temporary foster care. A hearing will take place within the month to terminate all parental rights and at that time the parents will have a chance to come forward to keep the child.

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