With dozens of babies throughout the country abandoned on the side of the road, in dumpsters or other dangerous locations each year, a bipartisan resolution sponsored by Assembly Democrats Herb Conaway and Carol Murphy that aims to help raise awareness about the New Jersey Safe Haven Infant Protection Act was signed into law Wednesday.
The law (formerly resolution AJR-183/SJR-92) designates September as ‘Safe Haven Awareness Month’ in New Jersey. The purpose is to increase public awareness through appropriate activities and programs.
Commonly referred to as the Safe Haven law, the legislation was passed two decades ago and allows distressed parents to anonymously surrender an infant within 30 days of the child’s birth to staff at one of the state’s designated Safe Haven sites – such as emergency rooms, police stations, ambulance squads and fire stations that are staffed 24/7. The child would then be placed in a foster or pre-adoptive home by the State Department of Children and Families.
Upon the resolution becoming law, sponsors Conaway and Murphy (both D-Burlington) issued the following joint statement:
“As one of the first states to enact a Safe Haven law back in 2000, New Jersey took an important step in preventing babies from tragically and needlessly losing their lives as a result of abandonment.
“Sometimes a new parent is overwhelmed by the responsibilities of caring for an infant in the midst of dealing with their own distressing life challenges. In those instances, parents in crisis need a safe place where they can surrender their baby and know the child will be well-taken care of by professionals.
“This law has already saved 77 babies in New Jersey since its enactment and could save even more if there was greater public awareness. Not everyone knows that an infant can legally be surrendered at a Safe Haven site or how to find one of those sites, and might otherwise choose to abandon their baby somewhere dangerous, which is why it’s so important to spread the word.
Republican Assemblyman Jay Webber is also a sponsor.