BAKERSFIELD, Calif. - For most people, the birth of a child is a happy occasion celebrated with family and friends. But for some women, childbirth becomes a crisis - and the decisions made following an infant’s birth can be a matter of life or death for the child.
The Safely Surrendered Baby Law responds to the increasing number of newborn infant deaths due to abandonment in unsafe locations.
First signed into law in January 2001, the Safely Surrendered Baby Law became permanent in January 2006. The law’s intent is to save the lives of newborn infants at risk of abandonment by encouraging parents or persons with lawful custody to safely surrender the infant within 72 hours of birth, with no questions asked. The law exists so that these infants will not be harmed because the mother abandons them, or fails to provide them with care, sometimes leaving them to die.
“It's no questions asked. We're not there to judge we're there to make sure a baby that's been safely surrendered has every opportunity to survive, ” said Brian Marshall, Fire Chief with Kern County Fire Department.
To date, 33 babies have been safely surrendered in Kern County since we began tracking those babies in 2006. Three infants have already been safely surrendered this year 2013.
“What is does is provide moms who have be in crisis may be desperate like she can't provide for her baby a safe option,” said Yvonne Chambers, Clinical Director of Maternal Child Services at Kern Medical Center.
Since the law was put into place, the task of educating our Kern County residents about this law has fallen to a coalition of dedicated individuals representing a long list of departments, non-profits, hospitals, and stakeholders.
Organizers want to send out this message to the community:
Don’t abandon your baby. Safely surrender your baby into the hands of any Kern County Fire or Emergency room personnel. It’s safe, legal, and no one has to know.
If you have any questions about Safely Surrendered, click here for frequently asked questions: http://bit.ly/19Zz8qg.