In 2000 Michigan enacted the Safe Delivery Law, which was put in place to protect unwanted newborn babies from being abandoned. With few options after delivery, and fear of legal reprisal, mothers often abandoned unwanted newborns that they were unable or unwilling to care for. Some of these babies were found and survived, but many died, prompting Michigan legislators to put laws in place that made it legal for a mother to legally surrender a baby without fear of criminal charges.
However, what the Safe Delivery Law didn’t do was protect the identities of the parents who chose to surrender their newborns, making them possible targets in the future. Under current law a mother can hand over an unharmed newborn who is not older than 72 hours with no fear of legal consequences. However, her name is still recorded on the baby’s birth certificate, which means that there’s a permanent traceable record of who the birth mother of every surrendered newborn is.
State Representative Hank Vaupel believes that if a mother could surrender a baby in complete anonymity, without leaving a record of who she is, it may provide an incentive for more mothers to surrender babies safely. Although Michigan’s Safe Delivery Law has resulted in 172 babies being safely surrendered to authorities.
The authorities legally authorized to receive a surrendered infant include staff members at any hospital in the state, personnel at a fire station or a police station, or any on-duty emergency service provider. Also, a parent can legally surrender an infant by simply calling 911 and reporting that they have an unharmed baby to surrender.
Many babies have been saved under the Safe Delivery law in Michigan
According to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, there are many successful attempts to surrender newborns in Michigan. And yet, there are still babies cast off. Left in dumpsters, wrapped up and placed in garbage cans, abandoned in public bathrooms. Authorities feel that this stems largely from fear. Fear that there will be repercussions. Fear that even though the law says “no questions asked”, there will in fact be questions.
While mostly unfounded, these fears are completely understandable. Prior to the introduction of the Safe Haven law, a parent who abandoned a newborn baby was subject to criminal charges of neglect or abandonment. This led to infants abandoned in ways that made their discovery and eventual safety almost impossible. While the safe delivery law helped reduce the number of abandoned babies, this new law may reduce that number even more.
Surrendering your baby under the Safe Haven law will never result in criminal charges against you, and will offer your baby a chance at life. It will also negate any chance that you will be prosecuted for neglect, abuse or abandonment of a child in the future. If you have any questions, or simply want to discuss your options with someone who understands, call the Safe Delivery Hotline at 1-866-733-7733 or go to the Safe Haven website for more information.