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Florida bill to greatly improve “Safe Haven” law now on pro-life Gov. DeSantis’s desk

by | May 6, 2024

By Dave Andrusko

A bill that more than quadruples the amount of time a woman has to surrender her newborn baby awaits pro-life Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’s signature.

Current law allows a woman seven days. The bill lengthens that period to 30 days. It “also authorize 911 responders to arrange an infant drop-off location in case the child’s guardian has no transportation to an agency’s site,” Siena Duncan reported for Politico.

The new bill expands Florida’s ‘Safe Haven’ policy. Such laws—all 50 states have them—”decriminalizes surrendering unwanted infants, as long as they are given up to specific agencies like hospitals, fire stations and EMS services.”

“Safe Haven laws” provide “a crucial avenue for parents who may find themselves in difficult situations and in need of a safe and anonymous option to ensure their child’s well-being,” according to Kim Schwartz.

Florida’s new Safe Haven law will save the lives of even more babies, says Lynda  Bell, Florida Right to Life President. “This just makes sense and received bipartisan support,” she said.  “There is absolutely no reason we should see one more story about babies being dumped in trash cans.”

Bell added, “These mothers who find themselves unable to care for their precious babies have a safe way to surrender their infant and face no punitive harm.”

The timing is perfect. Florida’s Heartbeat law went into effect just last week.  The Safe Haven bill “passed with bipartisan support during the 2024 legislative session,” according to Duncan.

“This was a way of doing something that was pro-life without making the left agitated,” state Rep. Mike Beltran told Politico. “It was a good way to find common ground on the life issue when options were more limited.”

“Democratic state Rep. Robin Bartleman said that while she still opposed the state’s new abortion ban,” this bill provides an alternative, Duncan reported.

“Once the infant is born, once a child is there, we want to save that child,” Bartleman said. “And not have stories where they’re dumped in a garbage bag. It’s really terrible this year.”

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the legal timeframe for Safe Haven laws “often varies from 3 days to a month.”

Back in 2020, “the main focus was on ‘baby boxes’ — authorizing the use of containers at fire stations or hospitals with silent alarms that would trigger when an infant was laid inside, alerting staff of the surrender and therefore allowing the exchange to be anonymous,” Duncan reported.

Beltran and state GOP Rep. Jennifer Canady “eliminated the text about baby boxes and decided to co-sponsor a bill focusing on just expanding the timing during the 2024 legislative session,” Duncan explained. “The bill passed both legislative chambers with unanimous approval.”

Not surprisingly, “support from pro-abortion-rights groups for this law only comes begrudgingly, if at all.”

National Right to Life, by contrast, hailed the bill about to become law.

“NRLC applauds the efforts of the Florida legislature in the passage of a law that has saved countless lives,” said Ingrid Duran, State Legislative Director.

Categories: State Legislation