Los Angeles County Supervisor Don Knabe renewed his opposition for the third time to new legislation by Assemblyman Alberto Torrico (D-Fremont) that will fundamentally alter the rules of the highly-successful Safe Haven Law.
Under the proposed legislation, AB 2262 will extend the newborn surrender period to 7 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. Access to quality medical care in the first hours of life is a critical component that could be placed in jeopardy if this legislation passes. 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. Extensive research has shown that the 72 hour window works.
A similar bill was also introduced during the two most recent Legislative sessions. Last year, AB 81 would have extended the window to 7 days. It was later vetoed by Governor Schwarzenegger. The first attempt, AB 1873, was also vetoed by the Governor in 2006.
This was an unnecessary bill the first two times, and it remains unnecessary, said Supervisor Knabe, who championed the Safe Surrender Program, the Los Angeles County version of the Safe Haven Program, over six years ago. There is no data showing that an extension to the 7 days proposed in Assemblyman Torrico’s legislation would improve this successful program, and we cannot allow an arbitrary number with no scientific basis to compromise the safety of these babies. The only window that has irrefutable evidence is the 72 hours, and changing it is a risk that we simply cannot afford. I vow to fight this bill every step along the way.
Los Angeles County has been at the forefront of implementing the Safe Haven Law. Since its enactment in 2002, 65 babies have been safely surrendered in Los Angeles County – more than one-third of all the newborns saved in California.