New Jersey's 23rd Legislative District

Senator Michael Doherty

Senator Mike Doherty

Bucco/Doherty Bill to Heighten Teen Awareness of Safe Haven Act Passes Senate

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Program Permits Newborns and Infants to Be Surrendered Safely, Anonymously & Legally

Senator Anthony Bucco and Senator Michael Doherty’s legislation ensuring high school students are taught about the “New Jersey Safe Haven Protection Act” has unanimously passed the New Jersey Senate.

Sen. Anthony Bucco & Sen. Michael Doherty’s legislation ensuring high school students are taught about the “New Jersey Safe Haven Protection Act” has unanimously passed the New Jersey Senate. (NJDCF)

“Teenage parents often hide pregnancies to avoid punishment from parents, and they’re among the most likely to abandon a newborn baby in an unsafe manner,” Bucco (R-25) said. “New Jersey’s Safe Haven Act has proven to saves lives by giving parents who may not want a child a safe, anonymous, and legal way to surrender a baby. We need to make sure that all of our students understand this option, which can protect a baby from harm and prevent teen parents from making extremely bad choices that may send them to jail.”

“New Jersey’s Safe Haven Act saves lives,” Doherty (R-23) said. “Expanding education may save a helpless baby from desertion and give a loving family the child they always wanted.”

Bucco’s bill, S-1126, requires high school students to be taught the provisions of the “New Jersey Safe Haven Protection Act” in health and physical education classes. Bucco was the original sponsor of the “New Jersey Safe Haven Protection Act,” which was signed into law in 2000.

This act permits individuals – parents or someone acting on their behalf – to anonymously surrender a baby up to one month old to any New Jersey hospital, police station, fire station, ambulance, first aid, and rescue squad that are operated 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

New Jersey’s Department of Children and Families immediately takes a surrendered child into custody and works to place them into the pre-adoption process or foster care.

In 2015, Bucco succeeded in expanding the locations that serve as ‘safe havens’ to include fire stations and ambulance, first aid, and rescue squads.

He said there are still too many instances of newborns and infants being abandoned in an unsafe manner, perhaps due to a lack of knowledge that ‘Safe Havens’ exist.

“I hope that expanding awareness of the Safe Haven program to high school students will prevent cases of illegal abandonment and offer others the opportunity to adopt a child into a loving family,” Bucco added. “We’ve already saved the lives of at least sixty newborns through this program, and I have no doubt we can save even more through better education.”

“We have a responsibility to protect those who cannot protect themselves, especially innocent children,” Doherty added. “Expanding awareness of this program throughout the high school community will reduce the stigma and give children the opportunity to live in and enjoy a safe, loving home.”

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