Los Angeles County Supervisor Don Knabe offered his thanks to Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger today for vetoing a bill that would have placed the success of the statewide Safe Haven Law in jeopardy. This is the third consecutive year the Governor has vetoed similar legislation.
Under the proposed legislation, Assembly Bill 2262, the Safe Haven window would have been extended to seven days from its current 72 hours. Currently, the program allows mothers of unwanted newborns to surrender their babies at Safe Surrender sites, such as Fire Stations and Hospitals, up to 3 days after the child’s birth. The person who surrenders the newborn is protected from prosecution, No Shame, No Blame and No Names.
Extensive research and statistics show the danger zone for these babies is within the first hours of life. Extending the window from 72 hours to seven days could have created 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 have been placed in jeopardy had this legislation gone through, said Knabe. Many infants who are safely surrendered were born in secret and 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. That is a risk we simply cannot afford and we appreciate the Governor’s veto.
Los Angeles County has been at the forefront of implementing the Safe Haven Law. Since its enactment in 2001, 68 babies have been safely surrendered in Los Angeles County.