Age amendment to SC Safe Haven law debated in Senate - FOX Carolina 21

Age amendment to SC Safe Haven law debated in Senate

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Baby boxes used in Indiana as part of the state's Safe Haven law (Source: KMOV) Baby boxes used in Indiana as part of the state's Safe Haven law (Source: KMOV)
An amendment to SC's Safe Haven law to raise the allowed infant drop-off age (FOX Carolina) An amendment to SC's Safe Haven law to raise the allowed infant drop-off age (FOX Carolina)
BOILING SPRINGS, SC (FOX Carolina) -

An amendment proposed by an Upstate legislator to the South Carolina Safe Haven law is being discussed in the Senate. The amendment would allow parents to leave abandoned children as old as six months with fire, law enforcement or church staff. The amendment would also require all Safe Haven locations to post signage indicating children can be dropped off there. 

"If for whatever reason [the parents] don't want to keep the child, we don't want the child in danger," said Rep. Donna Hicks (R), Spartanburg. Hicks cited numerous cases, including a recent one in Horry County, where a mother was accused of drowning her unwanted baby in a creek. Another baby was left in a dumpster, and an Anderson County woman was arrested and accused of suffocating her newborn baby with a trash bag. 

Hicks said the Safe Haven law serves to protect babies from senseless acts of violence, and allows mothers and fathers ill-equipped to care for them a way to make sure they are provided for. 

"It's a person that is in a very traumatic situation," Hicks said. 

Currently, babies 30 days old and younger are allowed to be dropped off, but  Hicks recently sponsored the amendment that would raise the drop off age to children as old as six months. 

"Usually at six months a child is still very, very vulnerable," she said.

Boiling Springs Fire Chief Scott Miller said first responders are trained to handle situations in which a parent leaves a child at a Safe Haven location. 

"DSS (Department of Social Security) will come out and do some hands-on training with us in terms of what kind of information we need to get," said Miller. 

Hicks' bill to raise the drop-off age passed in the House. She said she is looking to other states, like Indiana, where infants can now be dropped off at what is being called a Baby Box. The new program allows parents to leave babies anonymously. Alarms are set up in the box to alert staff when a baby is left. 

Hicks said she may bring up a similar measure next session.

"The box could be checked very frequently, so it wouldn't be but a moment, possibly, before the child was dropped off and the baby was found and rescued," she said. 

To read the amendment, click here

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