Examining Virginia's Safe Haven laws

By Gene Petriello - bio | email

HENRICO COUNTY, VA (WWBT) - There are infant safe haven laws in place to prevent babies from being abandoned. Henrico Doctors Hospitals says a newborn has never been dropped off there, but hospitals all across the area are prepared.

After the news of a baby found abandoned on Thursday in Henrico County, we take a closer look at the Virginia Safe Haven laws to see what options you have for your child.

Doctors hear the story all too often: a baby left alone with no parent in sight.

"It's an absolute tragedy when you hear that happen because there's a family out there that's obviously in crisis and and a baby that needs care and love," says Ben Warner with Henrico Doctors' Hospital.

It's the state infant Safe Haven law that allows you to get that care at Henrico Doctors' Hospital, or any hospital with 24-hour emergency services and at attended rescue squads with EMT's.

"They will have the comfort and knowledge that the baby will be taken care of," adds Warner.

State law allows 14 days after the baby is born to safety drop off the baby at the two allowed locations. That provision provides you a defense if you should face prosection. After the first 14 days, you can still drop your baby off, but the state law does not provide a defense for you in case of prosecution.

"Regardless if it's 14 days, 13 days, we're going to take care of that baby," says Warner.

It's care that has not been used at Henrico Doctors' Hospital yet, but it's the options that are available for you, if you should find yourself in trouble.

It could provide a safe place for a child, instead of being left in danger, abandoned and alone.

There is the website with more information on the state law: http://leg1.state.va.us/cgi-bin/legp504.exe?000+cod+18.2-371.1

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