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District Passes Safe Haven Law

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By Patrick Madden

The D.C. Council has unanimously passed a "safe haven" law to allow parents to give up their newborn infants if they feel they cannot care for their children.

Washington is the only jurisdiction in the country without a "safe haven" law. If the bill becomes law, a parent will be able to anonymously surrender an unharmed newborn, up to seven days old, to a designated safe haven, such as a hospital or fire station.

D.C. Councilman David Catania says the intent of the law is "to give these individuals a place to safely a surrender their child in a location much more preferable than a dumpster or alley or a hallway."

Last year, the district passed temporary "safe haven" legislation after authorities attempted to prosecute an 18-year-old mother who returned her baby to the hospital. The council will take a final vote on the measure later this month.

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