Safe Haven Law Has Potential To Save Ohio Newborns
A Guest Column by State Senator Troy Balderson
July 29, 2015
 
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In 2001, state lawmakers passed legislation to allow the parent of a child 30 days old or younger to leave their child with a peace officer, hospital employee, or emergency medical service worker without the threat of prosecution, all while allowing the option for anonymity if they prefer. This law, known as Ohio’s Safe Haven Law, is designed to prevent infants from being abandoned and potentially left to die if they are not found.

Ohio is one of many states with Safe Haven laws on the books. Many Ohioans are unfamiliar with this law, but its practicality has the potential to save babies’ lives who are otherwise in danger of abandonment by birth mothers and fathers who find themselves in difficult circumstances and are unable to take on the challenges of parenthood. Instead of penalizing birth parents who can’t care for an infant, the Safe Haven law gives them an incentive to protect their child by placing him or her in good hands.

Following the passage of Ohio’s Safe Haven law, between 10 and 13 babies per year were left with peace officers or hospital personnel. Beginning in 2005, this number declined to 3. Since then there has only been one year when the reported number exceeded 5 babies. These numbers demonstrate that the Safe Haven law is making a difference in the lives of birth parents

I believe that even one life saved makes this law worthwhile public policy for the State of Ohio. It is vital that we raise awareness in our communities about Ohio’s Safe Haven laws. I am reminded of this following new developments in a case involving a newborn who was found dead on a university campus. One can’t help but wonder that these tragedies could have been prevented if there were more awareness about existing laws. Ohio’s Safe Haven law provides the option of leaving a baby in a safe place without the deterrence of potential prosecution.

As a father and a legislator, I have and will continue to support legislation to promote adoption and improve Ohio’s infant mortality crisis. It is our obligation to raise awareness about potentially life-saving laws in Ohio. In doing so, we can help prevent tragic situations where newborns are neglected and abandoned, and continue to foster a culture of life in Ohio. Please help raise awareness by joining the conversation on social media, and informing friends and family that Ohio has Safe Haven laws designed to save babies’ lives.

For more information on Ohio’s Safe Haven laws, please visit http://jfs.ohio.gov/safehavens/index.stm.

 
 
 
  
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