Iowa’s Safe Haven procedures were put to use last week. “An individual brought a newborn boy to an Iowa health care facility on January 13,” Amy Lorentzen McCoy, spokesperson for the Iowa Department of Human Services, said.
This marks the 22nd time an infant has been turned over to the DHS since Iowa’s Safe Haven law was enacted in 2002. The law was approved in the wake of a high-profile case in 2001 involving a teen mother in eastern Iowa who killed her home-delivered newborn.
“This law provides a person with the ability to safely drop off an infant with no legal repercussions,” McCoy said. “What it does is really helps a parent in crisis safely hand over care and help another child be paired with a stable, loving family.” In all previous cases, the Safe Haven babies have been successfully adopted.
Last year, the Safe Haven law was used four times — including threes time in a four month span. “We have had more Safe Haven babies in the past year than in previous years,” McCoy said. “I think when a child is turned over as a Safe Haven child we see a lot of media coverage…and more people find out about the law and the about the ability to safely hand over the care of a child if they’re unable to provide safety and stability to the infant.”
Under Iowa’s Safe Haven law, parents have the option to safely hand over custody of babies age 14 days or younger without fear of prosecution for abandonment. The parent, or their authorized representative, can leave the newborn at a hospital or health care facility, and remain anonymous.