Parents can give up newborns anonymously within 72 hours of birth

Sunday, March 27, 2016

In Everett on Friday, a couple who were walking behind an apartment complex heard a baby crying from inside a large trash compactor. The woman crawled inside the compactor and started moving trash away from the sound. Buried under three feet of trash, reportedly under a microwave, was a newborn baby with the umbilical cord still attached.

In Washington State, per RCW 13.34.360, a parent, within seventy-two hours of a child's birth, can transfer the newborn to a qualified person at a hospital, fire station or federally designated rural health clinic, anonymously and without fear of criminal prosecution for abandoning, or failing to support, the baby.

In King County, a parent can leave a newborn with a qualified individual at hospital emergency departments, or fire stations anonymously up to 72 hours after the birth of a child without fear of prosecution for abandonment. 

Friday's story has a happy outcome. The baby was taken immediately to a hospital and reportedly is in good condition.

A previous story was not as good an outcome.

On February 12, 2014, the body of a newborn girl was found near the side of a road in North Bend. Wrapped in a blanket, the newborn was less than half a mile away from Snoqualmie Valley Hospital, a location where infants could be safely and anonymously surrendered under Washington State’s Safety of Newborn Children law.

In response to this story, King County created a King County Safety of Newborn Children Task Force to strategize ways to let the public know how to safely and anonymously give up a newborn.

Friday's story makes it clear that this information has yet to find its way to the people who need to hear it.


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