Bucco bill requiring Safe Haven education in high schools advances

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Senator Anthony Bucco

BOONTON — Seventy-one babies have been legally surrendered since New Jersey’s Safe Haven Infant Protection Act was passed in 2000; however, moms abandoning or killing their newborns continues to make headlines.

Most recently, an 18-year-old Neptune High School student suffocated her newborn before the baby’s father threw him in a dumpster and a Little Ferry mother killed her five-day-old daughter because, according to reports, “she didn’t want her child.”

“Had these new mothers taken advantage of the Safe Haven law, these babies would be alive today,” said Assemblyman Anthony M. Bucco.

His bill (A1380) requiring school districts to provide students in grades 9 through 12 with information on the Safe Haven law is up for a vote in tomorrow’s Assembly Women and Children Committee.

“We need to be able to reach young people before it’s too late. In the unfortunate event someone is expecting an unwanted child, they can anonymously surrender their baby and there are no repercussions” said Bucco (R-Morris).

The Safe Haven law allows parents to drop off their unwanted and unharmed infants who are younger than 30 days old at police stations, emergency departments, first aid squads and fire stations with no questions asked and without fear of prosecution.

Research shows the risk of being a homicide victim is highest during the first year of life and can often be the result of an impulsive decision to leave a baby in an unsafe location. Most infant homicides occur at the hands of new mothers on the day of birth. More than half of all illegal abandonments in the nation result in death.

“Education and awareness are so important. It empowers people to make the right decision,” said Bucco.

If the legislation clears the committee, it will head to the Assembly for a vote. A Senate version of Bucco’s bill (S1126) passed by a 35-0 vote in June last year.