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Baby Given Up Under State Safe Haven Law

From a Times staff writer

A healthy newborn was dropped off at a fire station in Wilmington on Wednesday under the state’s Safe Haven law, which allows parents to surrender babies with no questions asked rather than abandon them.

The 7-pound boy, who was believed to be about an hour old, was delivered to Fire Station 38 at 8:40 a.m. by a woman who said she was the mother’s cousin, fire officials said.

Firefighters checked to make sure he appeared healthy and took him to a hospital.

“We are pleased that in a time of duress, a troubled parent would see the warmth and safety of a fire station as preferable to a doorstep or worse,” said department spokesman Brian Humphrey. He said the firefighters accepted the baby in a calm, nonjudgmental manner.

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In effect since 2001, California’s Safe Haven law allows for the anonymous surrender of babies at hospitals within 72 hours of birth without criminal prosecution. It also provides for a 14-day period in which the mother may change her mind and reclaim her baby.

Los Angeles County expanded the law to include county Fire Department stations as drop-off sites. Several of the county’s 88 cities have added their municipal fire stations. The city of Los Angeles has yet to formally include its stations, but city firefighters were instructed about the law.

More than 20 babies have been turned in statewide.

“Obviously this mother has done the right thing,” said John Musella, a spokesman for county Supervisor Don Knabe.


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