My New Hampshire neighbor Darlene Pawlik put up a Facebook post recently that reminded me about New Hampshire’s Safe Haven law, passed in 2003. Texas passed the first such law in 1999 to protect abandoned infants, and now every state has a similar measure. Under New Hampshire’s Safe Haven law, newborn children up to 7 days old may be relinquished to staff at fire stations, hospitals, police stations or churches by parents who for whatever reason choose not to keep the baby. The idea is to make sure that an “unwanted” child is cared for instead of abandoned. At the same time, the law was crafted to protect the privacy of the parents distressed and overwhelmed by the birth – a teenager who has kept her pregnancy concealed from her family, for example.
Let the record show that the chief sponsor of New Hampshire’s Safe Haven law was Phyllis Woods of Dover. Of her nine co-sponsors, one is still in office: Rep. Andy Martel of Manchester, now running for re-election.
Safe Haven passed overwhelmingly in the New Hampshire House eleven years ago, 327-45. The usual pro-life/pro-abortion divide was obscured for one blessed day. Supporters ranged from Ray Buckley (then a rep, now chairman of the New Hampshire Democratic Party) and Chris Pappas (now a Democratic Executive Councilor) to Sharon Carson and Sam Cataldo (now pro-life state Senators). The bill later passed on a voice vote in the Senate after an unfriendly amendment was voted down along party lines.