Thursday, June 14, 2012

Dog … A Baby’s Best Friend?

(Salt Lake City, UT) – Recently, a news story from Ghana hailed a lost dog as a hero after the canine was found protecting a two-week old baby who had been abandoned under a bridge. Searchers looking for the dog discovered the two snuggled up together. Although the baby had an infection, he is reported to be in good health. For many abandoned newborns, the outcome might not be so positive.

Fortunately, Utahns don’t have to rely on the neighbor's dog to safeguard a newborn. The Utah Newborn Safe Haven law, which was approved several years ago, allows an unharmed newborn to be turned over by the birth mother or any other person to any staff member at a hospital. The law protects newborns from injury or death by providing a safe place but also allows the identity of the person who is giving up the newborn to remain a secret.

Once the newborn has been checked out by the hospital, the Utah Division of Children and Family Services (DCFS) is contacted and the baby is placed for adoption through an expedited process. "Child safety and permanency are priorities for our division," said DCFS Director Brent Platt. "The safe relinquishment law has provisions to ensure both of these priorities are met should a parent choose to safely relinquish their newborn."

According to the bill’s sponsor, Representative Patrice Arent, “Utah was one of the early states to adopt a safe haven law. Similar laws have now been passed in all 50 states, providing a safe place for a mother in crisis to surrender her newborn without fear of prosecution. Many lives have been saved as a result of this legislation.”

A 24 hour toll-free information hotline is available at 1-866-458-0058. Details may also be found on the Safe Haven website at The site includes details on Utah’s law, frequently asked questions and contact information for the hospitals that take newborns.
Media Contacts:

Julia Robertson
UDOH Pregnancy Risk Line
Representative Patrice Arent
Utah House of Representatives – District 36
Utah Newborn Safe Haven Advisory Committee
(801) 930-0836