DES MOINES — Officials with the Iowa Department of Human Services said Thursday a baby boy born on April 23 was released to DHS custody under the state’s Safe Haven procedure — marking the 48th time since the law was established about 20 years ago.
Specific details were withheld in order to protect the identity of the parents and the children, according to a DHS news release.
Through Iowa’s Safe Haven law, parents or their authorized representative can leave infants age 30 days or younger at a hospital or health care facility without fear of prosecution for abandonment.
“The purpose of this law is to protect the lives of newborns who are in danger of abandonment,” said Janee Harvey, administrator of the DHS adult, children and family services division.
“We want to ensure Iowans know that Safe Haven is an available option if they cannot care for their newborn safely,” said Harvey. “We recognize that these decisions are often made in the midst of crisis and the protocols are built accordingly.”
The Safe Haven procedure prioritizes the health and physical safety of the infant, as well as the anonymity of the parent or authorized individual who relinquishes custody of the child. The law was approved in the wake of a high-profile case in 2001 involving a teen mother in Eastern Iowa who killed her home-delivered newborn.