Senate panel agrees adding time to safe haven for babies a good step –

Posted: February 24, 2020 at 5:43 am

SALT LAKE CITY In the last 18 years, Utahs Newborn Safe Haven law has saved at least 42 babies whose mothers were able to relinquish them anonymously.

Well be able to save even more, said Sen. Scott Sandall, R-Tremonton, who is co-sponsoring HB97, which would extend the amount of time that parents can safely give up their baby from 72 hours to up to 30 days after the birth.

There are times when girls need more time to decide, Sandall told members of the Senate Health and Human Services Committee on Wednesday. They find out when they get home that they are in no position to care for the child and in the position where they dont know what to do.

It seems like were probably going to save more babies lives, and were going to be able to get more babies into adoptive homes where they can be loved and grow, Sandall continued.

Years ago, Lon Hatch and his wife were able to adopt a baby whose mother was raped and she didnt want to keep the child as a reminder of her circumstances.

She was in crisis and didnt know what to do, he said, adding that the young woman hid her pregnancy, but somehow knew about Utahs Safe Haven law and gave her baby to someone who desperately wanted him.

This gave her an outlet, Hatch said. She could have chosen to have an abortion. She could have chosen to abandon him in an unsafe location. She could have made a tragic decision that could have harmed him or ended his life. But she chose to use the law.

That law changed our lives forever, he said. The Safe Haven law saved the life of our son.

Hatch said his son is active, smart and engaging; loves to play in the dirt and climbs everything.

He is wonderful and he is the outcome of this law, he said, adding that the boy is not defined by his mothers tragic circumstance ... it was not his choice.

Bill sponsor Rep. Patrice Arent, D-Holladay, said the Safe Haven law is one of the most important pieces of legislation shes ever worked on in the nearly 20 years as a Utah lawmaker.

Its not just for the kids, but the women who can move on with their lives and not live with the guilt, she said.

HB97 asks for $50,000 to help educate women about the law and its potential changes, should it be adopted by the full body before March 12, the last day of the session.

It has achieved support from the Utah House, and the senate committee on Wednesday also unanimously supported the bill, with a favorable recommendation to the full Senate.

There are a number of the things we do that affect people, but only a few of them affect life and death, Sandall said. This is one of those things, to me, that is really emotional.

He called the extension a no-brainer.

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Senate panel agrees adding time to safe haven for babies a good step -

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