Infant Safe Haven Laws - Mississippi

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Infant's Age

Citation: Ann. Code § 43-15-201

An infant who is 7 days old or younger may be relinquished.

Who May Relinquish the Infant

Citation: Ann. Code § 43-15-201

A child is relinquished when the child is voluntarily delivered to the emergency medical services provider by the child's parent and the parent did not express an intent to return for the child.

Who May Receive the Infant

Citation: Ann. Code §§ 43-15-201; 43-15-207

The child may be delivered to an emergency medical services provider. The term 'emergency medical services provider' means a licensed hospital that operates an emergency department; a licensed adoption agency; or fire station or mobile ambulance staffed with full-time firefighters, emergency medical technicians, or paramedics.

An emergency medical services provider does not include the offices, clinics, surgeries, or treatment facilities of private physicians or dentists. No individual licensed health-care provider, including physicians, dentists, nurses, physician assistants, or other health professionals shall be deemed to be an emergency medical services provider, unless such individual voluntarily assumes responsibility for the custody of the child.

Responsibilities of the Safe Haven Provider

Citation: Ann. Code §§ 43-15-201; 43-15-203

An emergency medical services provider, without a court order, shall take possession of a newborn who is voluntarily delivered to the provider by the child's parent, and the parent did not express an intent to return for the child.

An emergency medical services provider who takes possession of a child shall perform any act necessary to protect the physical health or safety of the child.

The provider shall notify the Department of Human Services no later than the close of the first business day after the date on which an emergency medical services provider takes possession of a child.

Immunity for the Provider

Citation: Ann. Code § 43-15-209

A person or entity taking possession of a child under the provisions of this article shall be immune from liability for any civil action arising out of any act or omission resulting from taking possession of the child unless the act or omission was the result of the person's or entity's gross negligence or willful misconduct.

Protection for Relinquishing Parent

Citation: Ann. Code §§ 43-15-201; 43-15-205

The parent who surrenders the baby shall not be required to provide any information pertaining to his or her identity, nor shall the emergency medical services provider inquire as to the same. If the identity of the parent is known to the emergency medical services provider, the emergency medical services provider shall keep the identity confidential.

A female presenting herself to a hospital through the emergency room or otherwise, who is subsequently admitted for purposes of labor and delivery, does not give up the legal protections or anonymity guaranteed under this section. If the mother clearly expresses a desire to voluntarily surrender custody of the newborn after birth, the emergency medical services provider can take possession of the child, without further action by the mother, as if the child had been presented to the emergency medical services provider in the same manner outlined above.

If the mother expresses a desire to remain anonymous, identifying information may be obtained for purposes of securing payment of labor and delivery costs only. If the birth mother is a minor, the hospital may use the identifying information to secure payment through Medicaid but shall not notify the minor's parent or guardian without the minor's consent. The identity of the birth mother shall not be placed on the birth certificate or disclosed to the Department of Human Services.

Relinquishment to a safe haven is an affirmative defense to prosecution for abandonment, neglect, or exposure of the child.

Effect on Parental Rights

Citation: Ann. Code §§ 43-15-201; 43-15-203

There is a presumption that by relinquishing a child in accordance with this section, the parent consents to the termination of his or her parental rights with respect to the child. As such, the parent waives the right to notification required by subsequent court proceedings.

The Department of Human Services shall assume control and custody of the child.