Los Angeles County Supervisor Don Knabe renewed his opposition today to legislation introduced by Assemblyman Alberto Torrico (D-Fremont). Assembly Bill 81 (AB 81) is a rehashing of Torrico’s AB 1873 from the last legislative session that was vetoed by Governor Schwarzenegger in October 2006.
Under the proposed legislation, AB 81 will extend the newborn surrender period to 30 days. Currently, the program allows mothers of unwanted newborns to surrender their babies at Safe Surrender sites, such as Fire Stations and Hospitals, up to 72 hours after the child’s birth. The person who surrenders the newborn is protected from prosecution, No Shame, No Blame and No Names.
Extending this window from 72 hours to 30 days will create serious medical issues, said Supervisor Knabe, who championed the formation of Safe Surrender, the Los Angeles County version of the Safe Haven Program, over six years ago.
Access to quality medical care in the first hours of life is an absolutely critical component that could be placed in jeopardy if this legislation goes through as is, said Knabe. Many infants who are safely surrendered have received no prenatal care or medical care at all – services that are critical for these newborns to receive in the first hours after birth. The 72 hour window works, and we have extensive research to prove it. There is no data showing that an extension to 30 days proposed in Assemblyman Torrico’s legislation would improve this successful program. That is a risk we simply cannot afford.
Los Angeles County has been at the forefront of implementing the Safe Haven Law. Since its enactment in 2002, 53 babies have been safely surrendered in Los Angeles County – more than one-third of all the newborns saved in California.