Throughout the 1990s, there was a reported increase in infant abandonment and infanticide. As a response Texas enacted the first Safe Haven law in 1999, and all other states followed with their own version of the legislation. Mothers in crisis were encouraged to safely relinquish their babies to designated locations like fire houses or hospitals, and babies could then be protected and provided with medical care until a permanent home was found.
Our latest Omnibus research finds that only one in three (29%) have heard of the Safe Haven laws and knows the specific law for their state; fewer than half of respondents (43%) have heard of the law but do not know their own state’s specific guidelines. This leaves three in ten (28%) who have not heard of the laws at all - a particular problem in the North East where 37% have not heard of the laws. 38% of 18-34 year olds were also unaware of the laws. This brings up the issue of inadequate education about the legislation and the need for change, particularly among the younger women at risk.
Two thirds (66%) agreed that it is the responsibility of the schools to raise awareness of teenage girls about these laws, and women (69%) were particularly supportive of more education.
Despite the lack of clarity about the laws, a large percentage of respondents (64%) agreed that Safe Haven laws are a good thing because they protect vulnerable infants and 35% thought that they were positive because they give women choices.