A reminder of NH’s Safe Haven Law

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Phyllis Woods at State House event, Concord (Ellen Kolb photo)

The New Hampshire Knights of Columbus have launched a project to bring higher visibility to New Hampshire’s Safe Haven law, which permits the parent of a newborn child to surrender the child to anyone on duty at a “safe haven”: a hospital, police or fire station, or a church. Most states have some variation of this statute, differing mainly in the age limit for the child and the places that serve as havens.

New Hampshire’s law was passed in 2003. Ten co-sponsors led by then-Rep. Phyllis Woods of Dover shepherded the law through a 327-45 vote in the House followed by passage on a voice vote in the Senate.

As explained on the Baby Safe Haven web site, an online clearinghouse for information about these laws,

The purpose of Safe Haven is to protect unwanted babies from being hurt or killed because they were abandoned. You may have heard tragic stories of babies left in dumpsters or public toilets. The parents who committed these acts may have been under severe emotional distress. The mothers may have hidden their pregnancies, fearful of what would happen if their families found out. Because they were afraid and had nowhere to turn for help, they abandoned their babies. Abandoning a baby puts the child in extreme danger. Too often, it results in the child’s death. It is also illegal, with severe consequences. But with Safe Haven, this tragedy doesn’t ever have to happen again.

Woods spoke about the law at the recent Knights of Columbus Birth-Right dinner in Allenstown, and later posted to Facebook: “Thirteen years after we passed the Baby Safe Haven law in NH, the State Council of the K of C is taking up the mission of publicizing the law with a spokesperson, radio and TV appearances, and signs in Safe Haven locations. We are excited and deeply grateful for their efforts.”

News of the recent deaths of newborns in Virginia and California underscore the fact that even in states with Safe Haven laws, too many people are unaware of the safe-haven option. Thumbs up to the NH K of C for working to change that.


 

2 Comments

  1. Nancy Sirois

    Thank you, Ellen, for drawing our attention to this bill. Yes, I have read the stories of children abandoned in tragic ways. I applaud Phyllis for her dedication to life and spearheading this bill. I want to commend the Knights of Columbus for making it their goal to promote awareness of this law and for the wonderful banquet they held Saturday evening to support many of our state’s crisis pregnancy help centers.

    • Ellen Kolb

      I hadn’t even heard about the Knights of Columbus dinner, but I hear it sold out, so that’s fine! I spoke yesterday with Wayne Griffin, KofC state deputy, and he told me that more than 100 baskets of mom-and-baby supplies were collected that night from KofC councils statewide for distribution to crisis pregnancy centers.

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