Ohio’s Safe Haven Law Revised

Ohio’s Safe Haven law has been revised and now permits parents who want to legally abandon a newborn to do so within 30 days of the birth.

The revision, which went into effect March 24, changes the maximum age of the child from 72 hours old to 30 days old, according to Mary Kate Dilts-Skaggs, director of nursing for emergency and outpatient services at Southern Ohio Medical Center (SOMC). SOMC’s Emergency Department is a Safe Haven location.

The Safe Haven law provides protection for birth parents (mother or father) who voluntarily give up, abandon or desert an infant, provided the child is left with a medical worker in a hospital, a medical worker at a fire department or other emergency service organization or with a peace officer at a law enforcement agency.

A parent will not face prosecution for leaving the child at a Safe Haven location as long as the child has not been abused.

Ohio’s Safe Haven law was enacted in 2001 and aimed at reducing the number of infant deaths due to abandonment in unsafe environments, Dilts-Skaggs said. Since it went into effect more than 50 newborns have been surrendered in Ohio.