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General Assembly expands newborn  Safe Haven program

The General Assembly recently approved legislation expanding Tennessee’s newborn Safe Haven program. 

House Bill 1922, sponsored by State Rep. Ed Butler, R-Rickman, adds participating emergency communications centers and nursing  homes in counties without hospitals to the list of approved locations for safe haven baby  boxes and drop-off locations.   

“This is an important step in ensuring rural communities have access to newborn  safe haven boxes,” Butler said. “This program allows suffering mothers to safely  surrender their child in a place where proper care can be given. Tennessee is a pro-life state and I encourage mothers to take the necessary steps to keep their children, born and unborn, safe and healthy in times of crisis. I thank my colleagues for  supporting this life-saving legislation.”

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House Bill 1922 would ensure emergency communications centers and nursing  homes are subject to the same policies other facilities are bound by under  Tennessee’s Safe Haven law. 

Tennessee currently has three Safe Haven baby boxes, located at fire stations in  Jackson, Knoxville, and Kingston. Baby boxes allow mothers to securely and  anonymously surrender their child in a continuously monitored safety device that allows medical staff members to care for the baby quickly. 

Current law allows mothers to surrender their newborn up to 14 days after birth without fear of prosecution at hospitals, birthing centers, community health clinics, walk-in clinics, EMS facilities, and 24-hour fire and law enforcement facilities. 

More than 130 newborn babies have been safely surrendered in the state since the  Safe Haven law was enacted in 2001, according to Secret Safe Place for Newborns  of Tennessee. 

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House Bill 1922 now heads to Gov. Bill Lee’s desk to be signed into  law.

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