The following news release was issued on Feb. 26, 2015.
ST. PAUL — A state program offering a lifesaving option to women in danger of harming their newborns would receive much-needed funding under legislation unanimously approved today by the Health and Human Services Finance committee of the Minnesota House of Representatives. This protective measure is strongly supported by Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life (MCCL).
The Safe Place for Newborns program is a last alternative for mothers who feel desperate, and their babies who are at risk of harm or abandonment. Resources and funding are needed to expand awareness of the program statewide.
The bill approved today would appropriate funds enabling the Department of Human Services to distribute information about the Safe Place option. Increasing public awareness in this way would help to prevent unnecessary tragedies. The chief author of H.F. 825 is Rep. Roz Peterson, R-Lakeville.
"This law is intended for those rare and heartbreaking instances where the mother either was not aware of, or was unable to cope with, her pregnancy or plan for the birth," said MCCL Legislative Director Andrea Rau in her testimony on behalf of the measure. "H.F. 825 seeks an appropriation for the Department of Human Services to increase awareness of this law."
Minnesota enacted the Safe Place for Newborns law in 2000. This program aims to prevent infant abandonment or infanticide by allowing a mother to anonymously surrender her newborn at a designated "safe place," no questions asked. Several cases of infanticide have occurred in the state in recent years.
MCCL helped to amend the law in 2012 to expand the number of safe places and the length of time women have this option. Under the amended law, a mother, or someone acting with her permission, may leave her newborn at a hospital, an urgent care facility, or an ambulance dispatched in response to a 911 call within seven days of birth. Personnel at the safe place immediately begin arrangements for care for the child.
"A new generation of women needs to be made aware of the existence of Minnesota's Safe Place for Newborns law," Rau added.