Legislation sponsored by Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen) that would increase the number of locations in the state where unwanted infants may be dropped off safely and anonymously was approved by the General Assembly on Thursday, giving it final legislative approval.
The bill now heads to the governor's desk.
"This is about giving parents who cannot care for their babies more options so children are not abandoned in dangerous locations," said Vainieri Huttle. "This bill would add to the current list locations that are staffed around the clock with individuals trained to react to emergency situations and who can provide first aid if necessary."
The bill (A-4149) expands the list of sites where newborn infants may be left safely and anonymously by a parent, or another person acting on the parent's behalf, in accordance with the provisions of the "New Jersey Safe Haven Infant Protection Act."
The bill would include the premises of fire stations and ambulance, first aid and rescue squads that are staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Current law provides that an infant may be left at emergency departments of licensed general hospitals and state, county and municipal police stations.
The bill would also clarify that under the act, a child delivered to a safe haven must be left with an adult employee at the safe haven, if that safe haven is not the emergency department at a hospital.
"This can help protect babies by providing additional safe haven sites where parents can discreetly and safely surrender their children," added Vainieri Huttle. "These babies might have had a rough start, but that should not seal their fate."
The bill, which passed the Assembly unanimously, also received unanimous approval from the Senate.