Alabama’s Safe Haven law will soon provide even greater protections for surrendered infants following the Legislature’s unanimous passage of a bill sponsored by freshman Representative Donna Givens, R-Loxley.
Under the current law, infants can only be surrendered within 72 hours of birth at hospitals. Givens’ legislation, House Bill 473, extends that period to 45 days and enables fire stations to accept surrendered newborns if staffed by emergency medical personnel 24 hours per day.
“As a pro-life Christian, this bill is an extension of my belief that every child’s life is absolutely sacred and must be protected,” Givens said. “We want mothers and fathers who are unable to care for their babies to have safer, more compassionate options to leave infants where they can receive care before going to loving homes. I am particularly thankful to the Department of Human Resources for offering valuable insight and feedback throughout the legislative process.”
DHR, which oversees child welfare programs like foster care and adoption, was a key partner on the bill.
“Without a doubt, this bill will reduce the risk of harm to infants by giving parents more choices and more time to surrender newborns safely in times of crisis,” said Commissioner Nancy Buckner of DHR. “Representative Givens has done a tremendous service for our youngest Alabamians by sponsoring this important legislation and carrying it across the finish line. We thank Representative Givens for her insight and passion for these vulnerable babies.”
Passed by the Legislature on June 1, House Bill 473 also permits the installation of “baby boxes” at hospitals and fire stations, enabling parents to surrender infants safely and anonymously.
“I am hopeful that any parent considering giving up a child will go to a baby box and leave the baby inside instead of abandoning the child somewhere dangerous,” Givens said. “We have to do everything we can to prevent harm to these babies.”
The boxes will be accessible from inside and outside approved facilities. Once a baby is placed inside the container, exterior access is locked and a silent alarm alerts on-duty first responders to retrieve the child immediately.
An unknown donor has already pledged funding for the first 10 baby boxes at fire stations near colleges in Baldwin County, Mobile, Auburn, Huntsville, Tuscaloosa, the Muscle Shoals area, Dothan, Anniston and Montgomery.
“Thanks to the generosity of this private donor, parents giving up children won’t be leaving them somewhere dangerous,” Givens said. “Those babies will have their lives saved and get to grow up in homes with families who will love and nurture them. It’s a win-win-win situation.”