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Connecticut's Safe Haven Law Saves Lives, But Advocates Say Awareness Is Key

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Connecticut's Safe Haven Law has been on the books since the year 2000 -- but supporters say it needs to be better known. The law allows a parent to legally and confidentially leave an infant at a hospital emergency room within 30 days of giving birth, if they are unable to care for it. 

Vanessa Dorantes, commissioner of the state Department of Children and Families said the law saves lives.

“Since the inception of the law in October 2000, 35 safe haven babies have been brought to emergency rooms across Connecticut,” said Dorantes, “so roughly two babies each year have been saved from possibly horrible outcomes. That proves the worth of the law.”

Dorantes said despite the law’s success, there have been tragedies. That's why state lawmakers, as well as state officials and members of the Safe Haven Working Group gathered in Hartford to raise awareness about the Safe Haven Law.

Working group member, former state Representative Pamela Sawyer touted a new Connecticut law which allows school districts to teach about the state's Safe Haven Law in public high schools.

“So we're able to reach out into some of those communities that may not follow the regular press,” said Sawyer. “They may be from immigrant communities. They may not speak English and have the same information, but they are coming through the school system.”

The law allowing outreach in high schools was introduced in response to a 2014 incident in which an East Hartford teen gave birth to a baby boy, then discarded him in the trash where he later died.

Ray Hardman is Connecticut Public’s Arts and Culture Reporter. He is the host of CPTV’s Emmy-nominated original series Where Art Thou? Listeners to Connecticut Public Radio may know Ray as the local voice of Morning Edition, and later of All Things Considered.

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