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Ventura County

Baby Given Up Under State Safe Haven Law

November 29, 2002|From a Times Staff Writer

A healthy newborn was dropped off at a fire station in Wilmington on Wednesday under the state's Safe Haven law, which allows parents to surrender babies with no questions asked.The 7-pound boy, believed to be about an hour old, was brought to Fire Station 38 about 8:30 a.m. by a woman who said she was the mother's cousin, fire officials said.

Firefighters checked to make sure he appeared healthy and took him to a hospital.

"We are pleased that in a time of duress, a troubled parent would see the warmth and safety of a fire station as preferable to a doorstep or worse," said department spokesman Brian Humphrey.

In effect since 2001, California's Safe Haven law allows for the anonymous surrender of babies at hospitals within 72 hours of birth without criminal prosecution. It also provides for a 14-day period in which the mother may change her mind and reclaim her baby.

Los Angeles County expanded the law to include county Fire Department stations as drop-off sites. Several of the county's 88 cities have included their municipal fire stations. The city of Los Angeles has yet to formally include its stations, but city firefighters were informed of the law.

More than 20 babies have been turned in statewide.

"Obviously this mother has done the right thing," said John Musella, a spokesman for county Supervisor Don Knabe.

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