The Chillicothe Police Department has recently identified its location as "A Safe Haven for Newborns" drop off site.
Safe Havens for Newborns are approved locations where women, after delivery, can safely leave unwanted or unprovidable newborn child in the care of law enforcement officials or medical staff, without the fear of legal penalties.
In 1999 an overwhelming number of infant abandonments took place. Never before in a single year had so many mothers decided that they couldn't care for their children — and then disposed of their newborn infants in unsafe and tragic ways.
In response, a group of people worked together to create a law providing an alternative. This law would protect the mother and assure her that she would not be prosecuted for relinquishing her baby. So long as the baby was safe and given to a responsible adult at a designated location, the mother would be free to go anonymously.
Since its inception, more than 2,000 babies are known to have been positively impacted by the Baby Safe Haven program.
The Missouri law states that a mother can leave her baby, up to 1 year old, with an on duty employee at any hospital, fire department, emergency medical professional or law enforcement agency in Missouri.
Safe Haven Infant Protection Laws enable a person to give up an unwanted infant anonymously. As long as the baby has not been abused, the person may do so without fear of arrest or prosecution.
The purpose of Safe Haven is to protect unwanted babies from being hurt or killed because they were abandoned.
There have been tragic stories of babies left in dumpsters or public toilets. The parents who committed these acts may have been under severe emotional distress. The mothers may have hidden their pregnancies, fearful of what would happen if their families found out. Because they were afraid and had nowhere to turn for help, they abandoned their babies.
Abandoning a baby puts the child in extreme danger. Too often, it results in the child's death. It is also illegal, with severe consequences. But with Safe Haven, this tragedy doesn't ever have to happen.
The Chillicothe Fire Department was certified as a Safe Haven for Newborns late last year.