Background

In response to apparently rare but highly publicized instances in which infants have been abandoned and sometimes left to die, every state, beginning with Texas in 1999, has enacted a provision intended to provide a safe and confidential means of relinquishing an unwanted infant. These infant abandonment measures—also referred to as “safe haven” or “safe surrender” provisions—typically follow the Texas model and allow a parent or other specified party to relinquish an infant under certain circumstances without threat of prosecution for child abandonment. Variations include limits on an infant’s age (ranging from 72 hours to one year) and the places or personnel authorized to accept an infant (e.g., hospital emergency room staff or emergency services personnel [ESP], such as emergency medical technicians, firefighters or law enforcement officers). Some states explicitly guarantee parental anonymity; others require personnel accepting an infant to inquire into the infant’s medical history.

Highlights

Infant Abandonment

STATE

INFANT MAY BE RELINQUISHED UP TO A SPECIFIC AGE

OTHERS MAY LEAVE INFANT

PERSON LEAVING INFANT RETAINS ANONYMITY

AUTHORIZED ACCEPTOR

ACTIONS REQUIRED OF THE ACCEPTOR:

Provide ID Bracelet

Request Medical Information

Investigate If a 'Missing Child'

Alabama

72 hours

 

 

ESP

 

 

 

Alaska

21 days

 

X

ESP, HCP, other

 

X

 

Arizona

72 hours

X

ESP, HCP, other

 

 

 

Arkansas

30 days

 

 

ESP, HCP

 

 

X

California

72 hours

 

X

HCP, other

X

X

 

Colorado

72 hours

 

 

ESP, HCP, other

 

 

 

Connecticut

30 days

X

 

HCP

X

 

Delaware

14 days

X

X

HCP

X

X

X

Dist. of Columbia

14 days

 

X

HCP, other

 

X

 

Florida

7 days

 

X

ESP, HCP

 

 

X

Georgia

30 days

 

 

ESP, HCP

 

 

 

Hawaii

72 hours

X

 

ESP, HCP

 

X

X

Idaho†​

30 days

 

X

ESP, HCP

 

 

X

Illinois

30 days

 

X

ESP, HCP

 

 

X

Indiana*

30 days

 

X

ESP

 

 

X

Iowa†​

30 days

X

X

ESP, HCP

 

 

 

Kansas

45 days

X

 X 

ESP, HCP

 

X

 

Kentucky

30 days

X

X

ESP, HCP, other

 

X

 

Louisiana†​

60 days

 

 

ESP, HCP, other

 

X

X

Maine

31 days

X

 

ESP, HCP

 

 

 

Maryland

10 days

X

 

HCP, other

 

 

 

Massachusetts

7 days

 

X

ESP, HCP

 

X

 

Michigan

72 hours

 

 

ESP, HCP

 

X

X

Minnesota†​

7days

X

X

ESP, hcp

 

 

 

Mississippi

72 hours

 

X

ESP

 

 

 

Missouri

45 days

 

X

ESP, HCP, other

 

 

 

Montana

30 days

 

 

ESP, HCP

 

X

X

Nebraska

30 days

X

 

HCP

 

 

 

Nevada

30 days

 

X

ESP, HCP

 

 

New Hampshire

7 days

 

X

ESP, HCP, other

 

 

 

New Jersey

30 days

X

X

ESP, HCP

 

 

X

New Mexico

90 days

X

X

HCP, ESP

 

 

 

New York†​

30 days

 

 

Other

 

 

 

North Carolina

7 days

 

X

ESP, HCP

 

 

X

North Dakota

1 year

X

X

HCP

X

X

 

Ohio

72 hours

 

X

ESP, HCP

 

X

 

Oklahoma

7 days

 

X

ESP, HCP

 

 

X

Oregon

30 days

 

X

ESP, HCP

 

 

 

Pennsylvania

28 days

 

 

ESP, HCP

 

 

 

Rhode Island

30 days

X

X

ESP, HCP

 

 

 

South Carolina

60 days

X

X

ESP, HCP

 

X

X

South Dakota

60 days

 

X

ESP, HCP

 

 

 

Tennessee

72 hours

 

X

ESP, HCP

 

X

 

Texas

60 days

 

X

ESP, HCP, other

 

 

X

Utah

72 hours

X

X

HCP

 

 

X

Vermont

30 days

X

X

ESP, HCP, other

 

 

 

Virginia

14 days

 

 

ESP, HCP

 

 

 

Washington

72 hours

 

X

ESP, HCP

 

X

 

West Virginia

30 days

 

X

HCP

 

 

 

Wisconsin

72 hours

 

X

ESP, HCP, other

 

 

 

Wyoming

14 days

X

X

ESP, HCP, other

 

 

X

TOTAL

50+DC

19

35+DC

50+DC

4

16+DC

18

    Allows a parent to relinquish an infant at an authorized place without personnel being present, as long as the parent notifies personnel of the infant's location.

*    Indiana also allows a parent, guardian or custodian to leave an infant up to one year old with a hospital or medical facility.
ESP = emergency services personnel
HCP = health care provider