What is the Safe Haven for Abandoned Babies Act?
This state law provides pregnant women with an alternative to abandoning a newborn baby in potentially fatal circumstances such as in the dumpster. Under the Safe Haven Act, an infant can be left with a hospital or hospital outpatient facility, law enforcement agency, fire station, emergency medical services station, or any staffed house of worship during the hours the facility is staffed. The infant must be less than 30 days old, unharmed, and left by the parent or other person acting for the parent. The law provides the parent immunity from prosecution if the conditions are met. A baby left under these conditions will be placed in DSS foster care and adoptions proceedings will be initiated immediately. Contact the local DSS office if you need additional information.
South Carolina Child Safe Haven Law
SECTION 20-7-85 Infants left in safe haven; procedures, care, immunity and reporting requirements.
(A) A safe haven in this State must, without a court order, take temporary physical custody of an infant who is voluntarily left with the safe haven by a person who does not express an intent to return for the infant and the circumstances give rise to a reasonable belief that the person does not intend to return for the infant. If the safe haven is a hospital or hospital outpatient facility, the hospital or hospital facility shall perform any act necessary to protect the physical health or safety of the infant; any other safe haven shall, as soon as possible, but no later than six hours after receiving an infant, transport the infant to a hospital or hospital outpatient facility. The person leaving the infant is not required to disclose his or her identity; however, the person must leave the infant in the physical custody of a staff member or employee of the safe haven.
(B)(1) The safe haven must offer the person leaving the infant information concerning the legal effect of leaving the infant with the safe haven.
(2) The safe haven must ask the person leaving the infant to identify any parent of the infant other than the person leaving the infant with the safe haven. The safe haven also must attempt to obtain from the person information concerning the infant's background and medical history as specified on a form provided by the Department of Social Services. This information includes, but is not limited to, information concerning the use of a controlled substance by the infant's mother, provided that information regarding the use of a controlled substance by the infant's mother is not admissible as evidence of the unlawful use of a controlled substance in any court proceeding. The safe haven shall give the person a copy of the form and a prepaid envelope for mailing the form to the Department of Social Services if the person does not wish to provide the information to the safe haven. These materials must be provided to safe havens by the department.
(3) Any identifying information disclosed by the person leaving the infant must be kept confidential by the safe haven and disclosed to no one other than the department. However, if a court determines that the immunity provisions of subsection (H) do not apply, the safe haven may disclose the information as permitted by confidentiality protections applicable to records of the safe haven, if the safe haven has such confidentiality protections for records. The department shall maintain confidentiality of this information in accordance with Section 20-7-690.