Did you know Georgia has a “Safe Haven” law?

Published: Jul. 6, 2022 at 10:36 PM EDT|Updated: Jul. 6, 2022 at 11:22 PM EDT
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SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - Women’s rights are once again coming to the forefront following the reversal of Roe. v. Wade.

The reversal is raising the questions, including what options do women have if they have a baby and are unable or unwilling to keep it?

There’s a law in Georgia that allows a parent to leave a newborn at a designated facility, no questions asked.

The Georgia Safe Haven for newborns act has been around for about 20 years.

This law gives them an alternative, but there are some constraints.

Justice Samuel Alito wrote his opinion following the Supreme Court’s decision saying states have “increasingly adopted “Safe Haven” laws, allowing women to drop off babies anonymously.

They can go to the police department, fire station or hospital.

Only state employees who work for the Georgia Department of Human Services, which includes the Division of Family and Children Services, are allowed to take custody of a “Safe Haven” baby.

In Savannah, there haven’t been many reports of it happening.

“Fortunately or unfortunately, during the time that I’ve been here in the last 13 years, we’ve had no babies dropped off at the hospital,” said Dr. Michael Bossak, Director of Pediatric Hospitalist Medicine at Memorial Health.

Years before the law went into effect in 2002, and before she became the executive director for Greenbriar Children’s Center, Gena Taylor said they had to be a resource for an abandoned child.

“We have had an incident where a child had come to Greenbriar that was found in a dumpster and that law actually was not in effect then,” Taylor said.

But under Georgia Law, Greenbriar is NOT recognized as a safe haven.

Taylor said: “We see on an annual basis the number of babies that are lost because of a mom who may be fearful or just don’t know what to do.”

In Georgia, the Safe Place for Newborns Act gives criminal immunity to a mother who leaves her baby with a staff member or volunteer at any of the designated facilities only if the child is no more than thirty days old.

“We do not accept babies picnic baskets,” Dr. Bossak said. “You need to actually hand it to an employee of the hospital.”

The Hope Box, a nonprofit that partners with the state to rescue and raise awareness of infant abandonment reported “every day in Georgia there are 22 infants abused, neglected or abandoned”.

“We really need to increase awareness about it so a mother does not feel like she has to cause any type of harm to her newborn child.” Taylor said.

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