The Safe Arms / Safe Haven for Newborns Law Explained

It is our ‘passionate’ goal here at the Garden of Angels to reach the mothers who are hiding their pregnancy before they give birth.

Whenever we speak it schools, youth groups, clubs, organizations, etc., we always talk about the importance of telling someone (preferably family members or the father) if they are carrying an unplanned or unwanted child.

We talk about the importance of getting pre-natal care for both the mother and the child, and we also talk about making the most important decision of their lives, to keep their child or to place their child for adoption.

Either decision will not be easy, but it is critical to make that decision ahead of time, with wise counseling.

In California, Senate Bill 1368 (Safe Arms ~ Safe Haven for Newborns law) was created to ‘honor’ the many children who have lost their lives to ‘unsafe’ newborn abandonment. These are the children whose mothers did not tell anyone about their pregnancy and did not pick up a phone and call an agency for help. These mothers, who for whatever reason have kept their pregnancy a ‘secret’, gave birth in ‘secret’, and then they get rid of their‘secret’ before anyone else finds out.

Since August 1996, the Garden of Angels has buried the bodies of 76 abandoned and unclaimed children just from Southern California alone. This law was created to SAVE the lives of future newborn children.

The ‘Safe Arms ~ Safe Haven for Newborns’ law allows a parent to “safely surrender” their unwanted newborn within 3 days of birth to an employee at any hospital emergency department, most fire stations or other designated “safe havens” in California, without the fear of arrest or prosecution, as long as the baby has not been abused or neglected.

This is a NO NAME REQUIRED law when the baby is surrendered. A bracelet will be placed on the baby for identification and a matching bracelet will be given to the parent. The bracelet will help connect the parent to the baby if they wish to reclaim the baby within the 14-day “cooling off” period. The baby will be given medical treatment and placed in a foster or foster-adopt home.

Since January 1st, 2001 when the ‘Safe Arms ~ Safe Haven for Newborns’ law went into effect, over 153 newborn babies have been “safely surrendered” at hospitals and fire stations throughout the state of California. This is a lifesaving law, but only if people know that it exists.

There is no profile of women who are most likely to abandon their newborns. The cases of abandonment show women of all socioeconomic groups, ages, race, ethnicity, and educational levels. The age group should be considered to be any woman of childbearing age.

Forty-seven other states have passed ‘safe haven’ laws. The states that DO NOT currently have this law passed are; Nebraska, Hawaii, Alaska, and the District of Columbia.

EDUCATION: In California, Assembly Bill 2817 requires as additional course criteria in public elementary, junior high, and senior high school classes that teach sex education, to advise the pupils of the ‘Safe Arms ~ Safe Haven for Newborns’ law. In developing and providing this advice, school districts and public schools may adopt and use for this purpose, appropriate information and materials developed by nonprofit  organizations with experience in child abandonment.

Click here to visit the California SSB Safely Surrendered Baby Law website for safe surrender locations and statistics.