Infant Safe Haven Laws - Pennsylvania

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Infant's Age

Citation: Cons. Stat. Tit. 23, §§ 6502; 6503

A newborn may be relinquished. The term 'newborn' means a child less than 28 days of age as reasonably determined by a physician.

Who May Relinquish the Infant

Citation: Cons. Stat. Tit. 23, § 6503

The child may be relinquished by his or her parent.

Who May Receive the Infant

Citation: Cons. Stat. Tit. 23, §§ 6504; 6504.1; 6505; 6504.3

The child may be left with a health-care provider at a hospital or a police officer at a police station. For purposes of this section, health-care provider includes administrative, managerial, and security personnel employed by a hospital.

A hospital, police station, or other entity employing or otherwise providing access to an emergency services provider may provide an incubator for the care of a newborn accepted under this chapter.

The Department of Health shall promulgate regulations for providing an incubator, including sanitation standards; procedures for care for the infant placed in an incubator; and operating policies, including that only an emergency services provider, a health-care provider at a hospital, or police officer at a police station may take an infant into protective custody.

The incubator must meet the following requirements:

  • It shall be installed at a hospital, police station, or other entity that provides access to an emergency services provider.
  • It shall allow an infant to be placed in the incubator anonymously by the parent.
  • It shall lock after the parent places the infant in the incubator to prevent third parties from having access to the infant.
  • It shall provide a controlled environment to protect and care for the infant.
  • It shall provide notice to the personnel of a hospital, police station or other entity within 30 seconds of the infant being placed by the parent in the incubator.
  • It shall trigger a 911 call if the personnel of a hospital, police station, or other entity does not respond within a reasonable amount of time.

Responsibilities of the Safe Haven Provider

Citation: Cons. Stat. Tit. 23, §§ 6504; 6504.1; 6504.2; 6505

A health-care provider shall do the following:

  • Take the newborn into protective custody
  • Perform a medical evaluation, as well as perform any act necessary to care for and protect the physical health and safety of the newborn
  • Notify the county agency and the local municipal police department or the Pennsylvania State police

When a health-care provider accepts a newborn pursuant to this chapter, a parent, police officer, or emergency services provider may provide a health-care provider with information about the newborn's medical history and any identifying information.

A police officer at a police station shall do the following:

  • Take the newborn into protective custody
  • Ensure the newborn is transported to a hospital and placed into the care of a health-care provider

When a police officer accepts a newborn pursuant to this chapter, a parent may provide the police officer with information about the newborn's medical history and any identifying information.

In accepting a newborn, an emergency services provider shall do the following:

  • Take the newborn into protective custody
  • Ensure the newborn is transported to a hospital and placed into the care of a health-care provider

When an emergency services provider accepts a newborn under this chapter, a parent may provide the provider with information about the newborn's medical history and identifying information.

A health-care provider at a hospital shall, in all cases, notify the county agency and the local municipal police department or the Pennsylvania State police where no municipal police jurisdiction exists immediately by telephone regarding a newborn accepted by a hospital. A written report shall be submitted within 48 hours after the oral report.

Immunity for the Provider

Citation: Cons. Stat. Tit. 23, § 6507

Except for a violation of § 6506 (relating to failure to report acceptance of newborns), no emergency services provider or entity that employs or otherwise provides access to an emergency services provider; hospital; health-care provider at a hospital; or police department, police officer, or administrative or managerial personnel of a police department shall be subject to civil liability or criminal penalty solely by reason of complying with the provisions of this chapter.

Protection for Relinquishing Parent

Citation: Cons. Stat. Tit. 23, § 6503; Title 18, § 4306

The parent is not criminally liable under any provision of title 18 (relating to crimes and offenses) if the criteria of 18 Pa.C.S. § 4306 are met.

A parent of a newborn shall not be criminally liable for any violation of this title solely for leaving a newborn in the care of a hospital pursuant to 23 Pa.C.S. Ch. 65 (relating to newborn protection) provided that the following criteria are met:

  • The parent expresses, either orally or through conduct, the intent to have the hospital or police officer accept the newborn.
  • The newborn is not a victim of child abuse or criminal conduct.

A parent of a newborn shall not be criminally liable for any violation of this title solely for leaving a newborn in an incubator if the newborn is not a victim of child abuse or criminal conduct and the incubator is located at any of the following:

  • At a hospital
  • At a police station
  • On the grounds of an entity employing the emergency services provider or otherwise providing access to the emergency services provider

Effect on Parental Rights

This issue is not addressed in the statutes reviewed.