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September 18, 2012

Between 2011 and 2000, when the Safe Haven Protection Act went into effect in New Jersey, 51 newborns have been safely abandoned to a police department or New Jersey hospital emergency room. In that time, another 37 babies were unsafely abandoned.

The Safe Haven Protection Act allows anyone to give up a baby less than 30 days old without fear of prosecution or any questions asked, as long as the baby is relinquished to a police station or hospital. The child is then placed in a foster or pre-adoptive home.

The law was enacted after an outbreak in abandonments in the 1990s. In 1998, 105 newborns were abandoned in public places, 33 of which were found dead. In a typical year in New Jersey today, more children are safely relinquished through the problem than unsafely abandoned. In 2011, which was atypical, three babies were relinquished through the Safe Haven Act, while four were abandoned unsafely. The state Department of Children and Families has more information on the history of the act.

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