Parents will now be able to leave unwanted newborns at hospitals, police departments and staffed fired departments without fear of legal repercussions under legislation signed into law on Friday, four years after it was first proposed.
July 28, 2004 -Tolland, CT- Massachusetts will become the 47th state to have a Baby Safe Haven Law. The bill will be signed into law by Gov. Romney and Lt. Gov. Kerry Healey sometime in the coming month.
Advocates, Mike and Jean Morrisey are delighted. While they say they would have preferred to be the 26th state, "at least we weren't 50th," said the couple.
Tolland resident, Robyn Brown Surdel was also instrumental in advocating the law in Massachusetts after her television series, Robyn's Nest ~ The Parenting Network, was credited with saving the life of a Connecticut newborn in 2002. "That baby was abandoned at Bay State Hospital in Massachusetts, causing quite a stir among law enforcement and putting the parents in jeopardy of being arrested for charges of abandonment. Hopefully, that won't happen again as it defeats the purpose of Safe Haven," Surdel stated. "I couldn't be more pleased that Massachusetts is finally getting on board with the rest of the country. It's about time," Surdel furthered with a smile.
In Massachusetts, during the past six weeks alone, four infants were abandoned in public places including a near deadly abandonment on Martha's Vineyard.
According to the Mike Morrisey, since May 1, 2001 there have been 11 babies abandoned in Massachusetts. Six were found dead. Three were found sick or suffering from exposure, similar to Baby Vinnie who recuperated at Children's Hospital in Boston from hypothermia and hypoxia, a shortage of oxygen. The other two babies were found in relatively good health at churches in Springfield, according to Morrisey.
Surdel said among the New England states with safe haven legislation, the number of abandoned babies has remained low to non-existent. In the three years Connecticut has had legislation in place, there have been four babies left in designated safe havens and most recently the premature baby girl abandoned on a Branford doorstep this month.
"At this point, I believe the primary reason babies are being abandoned in unsafe places is the lack of publicity in Connecticut about the laws. I have produced several shows to help promote the law, written numerous articles and even speak publicly, but more needs to be done to reach the primary audience, the teen population," Surdel concludes.
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