Posted: Jul 30, 2013 8:54 PM by Steven Albritton
Updated: Jul 31, 2013 9:50 AM
On August 1st, many law changes will be taking effect in Louisiana, including changes to the safe haven laws. Safe Haven laws allow newborn infants to be given up and taken to a safe place within 30 days of the child's birth anonymously. With the law change, that amount of time will be increased from 30 days to 60 days, giving parents more time to mull a life changing decision.
First responders say they are always ready to receive an unwanted newborn.
"It gives them the additional 30 days to say,"You know what I can't handle this." A chance to bring the child to a facility where the child will be taken care of and cared for because children are our most precious commodity," Corporal Nicole Benoit of the Lafayette Police Department said.
The program allows an adult to drop off the child at an emergency care facility like a fire or police station, no questions asked. After the child is received the Department of Child and Family Services is called to take the baby. Whoever dropped off the baby is given a card where they can voluntarily call a hotline to give genetic and prenatal information about the baby. It's only happened three times in Lafayette since 2004 when the program first started and only 28 times statewide. The most recent occurrence in Lafayette was in April.
"We hope a situation never has to exist, but it provides that family member or that particular parent an out. Where the baby can be safe and the fire department is actually there to help," Alton Trahan of the Lafayette Fire Department said.
For more information on how the law works you can visit: http://www.nationalsafehavenalliance.org/states/louisiana/