Safe Haven Law allows parents to surrender a newborn with no questions asked

The law allows mothers to surrender a newborn to police without legal consequences
Published: Jun. 29, 2022 at 2:59 PM CDT
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WISCONSIN RAPIDS, Wis. (WSAW) - For some expecting couples, the thought of surrendering their newborn may feel like the only option after the Supreme Court’s recent decision to overturn Roe v. Wade. Police in Wisconsin Rapids are working to help people understand that while that is an option, there is only one way to do it without legal consequences.

The Safe Haven Law, also called Infant Relinquishment, gives parents in Wisconsin 72 hours to decide if they want to give up their newborn.

“They can also do this without fear of legal consequences,” said Wisconsin Rapids Interim Deputy Chief Scott Dewitt.

The law applies as long as the newborn is less than 3 days old, is unharmed and the parent isn’t being forced to give the child up.

“A parent can leave their newborn with any police officer, or any 911 emergency medical staff personnel. That could be such as a firefighter or ambulance service provider or hospital staff member,” said Dewitt.

Eleven states have baby boxes where the child can be left without any contact. But in Wisconsin, you must physically hand the baby over to one of these workers.

Dewitt said making sure the baby is cared for is crucial. “Hate to have them leave at the front of our station and we’re not aware of it at the time so just to have that contact and make sure that they’re there and somebody can provide further care,” he said.

Dewitt says they’ll offer the parent an optional form that asks them to write when the baby was born, the child’s race, any problems with the pregnancy, and health information about the family. No name or address is required.

“It’s kind of one of those laws that a lot of people don’t know about. So especially with the recent events we just want to raise education and awareness so if anyone were to find themselves in these circumstances that they do have options,” said Dewitt.

The Wisconsin Department of Children and Families has more detailed information about the Safe Haven Law in Wisconsin as well as the process if a parent decides they want the baby back.

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