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¡No Se Deje!
Child abandonment is a tragic problem that has been growing worse for years. The news stories about newborn infants that are found in dumpsters do not begin to reveal the extent of the problem. Hundreds of newborn infants are abandoned each year and too many of them die as a result. Experts have identified many recurring causes of parental abandonment including children born as a result of extra-marital affairs or rape. Others do it because the child is “illegitimate” or because they feel a child will interfere with their planned careers or lifestyle.
In 2001, California enacted the SAFELY SURRENDERED BABY LAW, becoming one of the first states to do so. Today all of the 50 states have similar laws which allow desperate mothers who are unwilling or unable to keep their babies to surrender them safely and legally without fear of being prosecuted as criminals. Unfortunately, newborn babies are still being abandoned today. It was announced that in one of this cases an Orange County woman was being tried for attempted murder and child abuse after leaving her newborn baby in a dumpster in her apartment complex. If convicted, she could be sentenced to life in prison. Surrendering her baby under the Safely Surrendered Baby Law would have permitted her to legally walk away from the child with no further parental responsibility.
THE CALIFORNIA SAFELY SURRENDERED BABY LAW
A parent, or person having lawful custody of a newborn infant, is allowed to legally and safely surrender it if done within 72 hours of birth.
The infant must be surrendered to a public or private hospital, designated fire-station or other safe surrender site. The surrender is confidential and the person delivering the baby will not be required to identify themselves, the parents, or the baby. The person is then free to leave.
A confidentially coded identification bracelet is paced on the baby’s ankle and a matching bracelet is offered to the person who surrendered the baby. This makes it possible to identify the child if the parent elects to reclaim the baby within the 14 day period permitted by law.
The person surrendering a baby is given an opportunity to voluntarily provide some basic medical information which may be necessary to provide medical care in the future. The medical questionnaire provides the following statement:
NOTICE: THE BABY YOU HAVE BROUGHT IN TODAY MAY HAVE SERIOUS MEDICAL NEEDS IN THE FUTURE THAT WE DON’T KNOW ABOUT TODAY. SOME ILLNESSES, INCLUDING CANCER, ARE BEST TREATED WHEN WE KNOW ABOUT FAMILY MEDICAL HISTORIES. IN ADDITION, SOMETIMES RELATIVES ARE NEEDED FOR LIFE SAVING TREATMENTS. TO MAKE SURE THIS BABY WILL HAVE A HEALTHY FUTURE, YOUR ASSISTANCE IN COMPLETING THIS QUESTIONNAIRE FULLY IS ESSENTIAL. THANK YOU.
The person can decline to provide the information, provide the information before leaving, or take the questionnaire and decide later. Surrendering a baby under this law is safe and legal. Abandoning a baby any other way can be dangerous or fatal and is a serious crime punishable by imprisonment. ¡NO SE DEJE! ®
JESS J. ARAUJO, ESQ.