Michigan’s Safe Haven law, also known as the “safe delivery” law, took effect on January 1st. 2001. This law allows a Michigan parent to safely and anonymously surrender an infant to authorities within 72 hours, or three days, of the child’s birth. No questions asked. No legal backlash. No criminal charges.
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, any on-duty emergency service provider, and also by simply calling 911 and reporting that you have an unharmed infant to surrender.
But why? Why would the state have a law like this on the books? Ask any police officer, firefighter or nurse and they will all tell you the same thing – for the protection of the children involved. A baby abandoned in a dumpster has very little chance of survival. A baby handed over to a hospital employee can be fed, clothed, cared for and protected until the state can find a home.
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 children simply abandoned. 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.
But while unfounded, these fears are 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.
For this reason, the National Safe Haven Alliance has worked with states all across the U.S. to create laws that protect both the innocent newborns and their mothers, and to increase public awareness that there are other options available to a desperate mother who may feel trapped by her situation and see no other way out.
According to Sarah Collins, the Department Manager of the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Sparrow Hospital, this law is most commonly used by young, underage mothers and women in domestic abuse situations. So if you are pregnant and don’t want to keep your baby, regardless of who you are and what situation you are dealing with at home, there are safe legal options available to you.
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.