Connecticut Lawmaker Wants Renewed Focus on Safe Havens Law for Infants

Aug 20, 2014

State Rep. Pam Sawyer addresses reporters about the Safe Havens law.
Credit Jeff Cohen / WNPR

A state lawmaker is calling for renewed focus on a law that lets distressed parents of newborns leave them in the state's care. The new push comes after recent news that a baby was found dead in an East Hartford trash can. 

The law is called the Safe Havens law, and it was passed in 2000. State Representative Pam Sawyer said the death of the child means that not enough people know about it.

"When I saw this headline, I realized there was a problem," Sawyer told reporters at a press conference. "The problem is we have the next generation of young people that don't know what the law is."

The law says that parents in distress can leave a newborn baby up to one month old at an emergency room anonymously.

"She will get a wrist band," Sawyer said. "She will not be charged with abandonment of that child, and she will know that the child is in safe hands."

Sawyer said parents have 30 days to change their minds. Since the law was passed, 23 babies have been brought to the state.

Michael Williams, a deputy commissioner of the state's Department of Children and Families, said that the state will include notice of the law in upcoming media campaigns on infant mortality. "We want to make sure they understand that there is a law that allows them to make a responsible decision about a newborn child," he said. "They can be assured that the Department of Children and Families will be able to support that child, and find loving homes that are willing to adopt that child."

Sawyer said she plans to start a working group to further discuss a public awareness campaign. It will begin its work this fall.