On Thursday the House Judiciary Committee unanimously passed H.B. 1098 expanding Arkansas’ Safe Haven law that lets women anonymously surrender a newborn.
Arkansas’ Safe Haven Act of 2001 lets a woman surrender her newborn baby to law enforcement, medical personnel, and first responders.
The law gives women with unplanned pregnancies an option besides abortion, and it protects newborns from being abandoned.
Similar laws are on the books in all 50 states.
Act 185 of 2019 by Sen. Cecile Bledsoe (R – Rogers) and Rep. Rebecca Petty (R – Rogers) improved Arkansas’ Safe Haven law by letting fire stations install Safe Haven Boxes — sometimes called ‘baby boxes’ — where women can anonymously place their newborn. Placing a baby inside the box triggers a silent alarm notifying first responders about the child.
H.B. 1098 by Rep. Julie Mayberry (R – Hensley) and Sen. Missy Irvin (R – Mountain View) makes it possible for volunteer fire departments to install baby boxes at their stations, provided that the department maintains and monitors the baby box in accordance with state law, and first responders are able to reach the baby in less than four minutes.
The bill now goes to the entire Arkansas House of Representatives for a vote.