Safe Haven Law needs no tinkering

Los Angeles County Supervisor Don Knabe, Chairman of the Board of Supervisors, renewed his opposition for the fourth time to new legislation by Assemblyman Alberto Torrico (D-Fremont) that will fundamentally alter the rules of the highly-successful Safe Haven Law.Under the proposed legislation, AB 1048 will extend the newborn surrender period to 30 days. Currently, the program allows mothers of unwanted newborns to surrender their babies at Safe Surrender sites, such as fire stations and hospitals, up to 72 hours after the child's birth. Access to quality medical care in the first hours of life is a critical component that could be placed in jeopardy if this legislation passes. Many infants who are safely surrendered have received no prenatal care or medical care at all - services that are critical for these newborns to receive in the first hours after birth. Extensive research has shown that the 72 hour window works. Similar bills have been introduced each of the last three years by Assemblyman Torrico. All three attempts, AB 1873, AB 81 and AB 2262 were vetoed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. "This was an unnecessary bill the first three times, and it remains unnecessary," said Knabe, who championed the Safe Surrender Program, the Los Angeles County version of the Safe Haven Program, over six years ago. "There is no data showing that an extension to the 30 days proposed in Assemblyman Torrico's legislation would improve this successful program, and we cannot allow an arbitrary number with no scientific basis to compromise the safety of these babies. The only window that has irrefutable evidence is the 72 hours, and changing it is a risk that we simply cannot afford. I vow to fight this bill every step along the way." Los Angeles County has been at the forefront of implementing the Safe Haven Law. Since its enactment in 2002, 70 babies have been safely surrendered in Los Angeles County - more than one-third of all the newborns saved in California.

********** Published: April 10, 2009 - Volume 7 - Issue 51