Tennessee Nonprofit Uses 14-Day Safe Haven Law to Protect Newborns

An update to the Tennessee Safe Haven Law extends the time for mothers to safely and confidentiality surrender newborns from 72 hours to 14 days. Mothers of unwanted pregnancies can resign their babies at facilities throughout the state without the fear of legal repercussions.

The nonprofit, A Secret Safe Place for Newborns of Tennessee, utilizes the Safe Haven Law to provide facilities that assist mothers who suffer from unintended or hidden pregnancies. Under the updated law, any Tennessee mother who wishes to surrender their newborn can do so at selected facilities without the fear of legal prosecution.

A recent change in the law extends the period of surrendering a child from 72 hours to 14 days. Now, mothers of unintended, unwanted, or hidden pregnancies can safely and securely surrender their newborns to the facilities supported by A Secret Safe Place for Newborns of Tennessee up to two weeks after giving birth.

The Safe Haven Law protects these unwanted babies by placing them in homes through adoption services.

More information is available at https://www.secretsafeplacetn.org/.

In 2001, Tennessee passed the Safe Haven Law, which allowed mothers to surrender their unharmed newborns within 72 hours of birth. A recent update extends that period to 14 days, allowing the mother more time to make such a significant decision. If the mother decides to resign the baby to designated facilities, it remains confidential and eliminates the state’s right to prosecute the mother for illegal abandonment.

There is an additional safety net in place that allows the mother or father to reclaim the child within 30 days after surrendering the baby. Parents will receive a baby identification bracelet with a number specific to their newborn, which they can present when reclaiming their child. After the initial 30 days, however, local child services will begin the process of placing the newborn into an adoptive family.

The goals of the Tennessee Safe Haven Law are to protect both the mother and child from harm or legal pursuit due to an unwanted, unintended, or hidden pregnancy. Lawmakers created the law after a young mother, who was too scared to tell anyone about a secret pregnancy, abandoned a baby unsafely. The action resulted in the newborn’s death. The nonprofit strives to educate the public and provide accurate information on how to legally and safely surrender babies and avoid unnecessary death or harm.

Mothers can surrender their newborns at the following facilities across the Tennessee state: hospitals, birthing centers, community health clinics (health departments), outpatient walk-in clinics, 24-hour staffed emergency medical service facilities (EMS), 24-hour staffed fire stations, and 24-hour staffed police stations. A map of all facilities is available on the website.

By providing numerous, confidential facilities to mothers of unintended pregnancies, no one has to fear legal ramifications or adverse reactions from families, friends, or community members. Instead, mothers can confidently leave their newborn and know that the child will receive care and protection. Parents can bring others to support them in the process, but the person who officially leaves the baby with the designated staff member must be the mother.

Through the Tennessee Safe Haven Law, A Secret Safe Place for Newborns of Tennessee hopes to eliminate unnecessary death or unsafe abandonment of newborns. Unfortunately, many unintended pregnancies result in abrupt abandonment by a frightened mother who has nowhere else to turn. The nonprofit and the state of Tennessee encourage those who find themselves in this uncertain situation to consult any Safe Haven Facility to ensure that their baby remains safe and with a healthy future.

Those who are interested can find more information on the process of surrendering a newborn, as well as opportunities to support A Secret Safe Place for Newborns of Tennessee with donations and volunteer events, online at the URL above.

Release ID: 88969429