HARRISBURG, Pa., Feb. 6, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- It's been 10 years since Pennsylvania lawmakers passed the Newborn Protection Act, establishing the Safe Haven program and requiring hospitals to provide a safe place for parents to leave a newborn, with no questions asked or identification required.
Every year in Pennsylvania, nearly a dozen newborns are abandoned. While most are left with relatives or friends, a few are killed or left in unsafe locations.
Lawmakers were inspired to create Pennsylvania's Safe Haven program after the tragic case of "Baby Mary," who was killed and left in a trash bin in Northumberland County 10 years ago.
"We want to remind Pennsylvanians that abandoning a newborn is not the answer," Secretary of Public Welfare Gary D. Alexander said. "By providing the Safe Haven option at hospitals, we can continue to ensure the health and safety of newborns by finding them a loving and permanent home."
By law, all hospitals in Pennsylvania participate in the Safe Haven program, providing convenient locations to protect newborns from abandonment if their parents determine that they are unable to care for them properly. Newborns up to 28 days old can be brought to any hospital and dropped off, and as long as the baby is unharmed, no questions will be asked.
During the past 10 years, 21 babies have been saved through the Safe Haven program after they were left at hospitals in 14 Pennsylvania counties. In 2012 alone, five newborns were surrendered to the Safe Haven program.
"We need the help of our public and private partners, social services organizations and community groups to promote Safe Haven as an option for distressed parents," Alexander said. "By spreading the word, we can continue to increase the number of children saved in Pennsylvania each year."
Expecting or new parents can confidentially learn more about Safe Haven by calling 1-866-921-SAFE or by visiting www.secretsafe.org.
Media contact: Carey Miller or Donna Kirker Morgan, 717-425-7606.
Editor's Note: Safe Haven program promotional materials can be downloaded and printed from the Safe Haven website at: www.secretsafe.org
SOURCE Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare