'Safe Delivery' Law Giving New Parents Options
If you ask any firefighter, nurse or government official about Michigan's "Safe Delivery" law, they'll tell you it's all about one thing: protecting children.
"We do still too often hear about these type of cases where somebody abandons a baby," says Michigan Department of Human Services' Bob Wheaton.
Safe Delivery took effect January 1, 2001 and according to Michigan Department of Human Services statistics, there have been 144 recorded attempts to surrender a newborn to date.
The law allows parents to safely surrender a newborn within 72 hours of birth, or three days.
But, the key to this program is that turning over the child is legal and anonymous.
You can surrender a newborn at a fire station, police department, to a paramedic service (by calling 9-1-1) or at the hospital. You must make contact with an emergency service provider. Simply dropping off a baby at a fire station, for example, is not legal.
If you crunch the numbers, almost 97% of all Michigan newborns surrendered have been given up at hospitals.
"What they usually are presented with is someone who walks in with a baby they have already had," says Sarah Collins, the Department Manager of the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Sparrow Hospital.
Who is utilizing this law?
"Probably a very young mom, maybe there's a domestic abuse type of situation, maybe she doesn't want her family to know she's pregnant," says Collins.
Since 2001, there have been 5 surrenders in Ingham and Jackson counties.
"I can only imagine what they are going through, do the right thing...follow the procedure," says Lansing Fire Department Public Information Officer and Engineer Steve Mazurek.
Experts say that some of the biggest misconceptions about Safe Delivery involve fear.
"They feel that maybe there will be punishment, they'll know who we are," says Collins.
If you want more information on Safe Delivery, visit www.michigan.gov/safedelivery or call the Safe Delivery Hotline for more resources and help at 1-866-733-7733.