Giving up newborns without fear of prosecution

Sunday, November 1, 2015

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. Although the details of the situation are not public information, the newborn was less than half a mile away from Snoqualmie Valley Hospital, a location where infants can be safely and anonymously surrendered under the state’s Safety of Newborn Children law.

Under the law, persons receiving infants under the statute are to contact Washington State Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) Children’s Administration intake specialists within 24 hours.

When a state task force examined the data from 2009 to 2014, it was determined that in King County, only four newborns were identified as being surrendered under this statute.

“Baby Safe Haven" laws (or infant abandonment laws) were created to remove the potential for prosecution so long as children were given unharmed to proper authorities.

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.


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