Today Sen. Cecile Bledsoe (R – Rogers) and Rep. Rebecca Petty (R – Rogers) filed S.B. 168 improving Arkansas’ Safe Haven Act.
Arkansas passed the Safe Haven Act in 2001 to make it possible for women to leave newborn children in the care of law enforcement agencies or medical providers, such as hospitals.
In other states, newborn babies have been abandoned in parks and public restrooms in hopes that someone would find and take care of them. The Safe Haven Act lets a woman surrender her newborn to law enforcement or medical personnel instead — without the possibility of criminal prosecution or endangering her child. Over the years other states have passed similar laws.
The Safe Haven Act helps protect the lives and safety of newborn babies. It also offers another option besides abortion to women with unplanned pregnancies.
S.B. 168 makes this good law even better by letting fire departments that are staffed twenty-four hours a day accept newborn babies as well. This will expand the number of locations where women can safely surrender a newborn, and will make it less likely that a child might be abandoned.
The bill also gives fire departments, law enforcement agencies, and medical facilities the option of installing specially designed and approved safety devices commonly called “safe haven boxes.”
These devices let women surrender their newborns safely and anonymously to licensed medical or law enforcement personnel, and have been used successfully in Indiana and elsewhere.
This is a good bill that our friends at Arkansas Right to Life strongly support.
The bill has been referred to the Senate Public Health Committee. We will keep you posted on its progress.
You can leave a message for your State Senator regarding S.B. 168 at 501-682-2902.
You can leave a message for your State Representative at 501-682-6211.
Jerry is the founder and president of Family Council. He began Family Council in 1989 after a successful effort to amend the Arkansas Constitution to prevent the use of public funds for abortions. He and his wife reside in Little Rock. They have four sons.