The UC Davis Fire Department has been designated as a Yolo County Safe Haven for the surrender of newborns.
Although UC Davis is the latest part of Yolo County to join this campaign, the program has existed in the county since September 2003. Other safe haven locations include the fire departments in Davis, West Sacramento and Woodland.
“UC Davis is well-suited because the campus is accessible to the public and provides a safe environment for the campus community,” said UCD Fire Chief Joe Perry in a written statement.
The fire department safe haven opens up a 72-hour window in which mothers can drop off their unwanted newborns – no questions asked. They receive no criminal prosecution. From there the staff works to find a home for the baby.
In addition to fire departments, the law also designates public and private hospitals as “safe surrender” sites.
“Because fire departments are not required by law to be safe havens, it is exciting that our local fire departments have opted to provide this service to help save the lives of babies,” said Diana Williams, chief deputy director of Yolo County Department of Employment and Social Services in a press release.
Supporters of the program say safe havens are advantageous to the community because some girls may find they have few options when faced with the prospect of raising a child. Opposed to abortion and unwilling to sit through the long, tedious process of filling out adoption papers, especially at the risk that information may be disclosed to their parents, many girls may find the sanctuary to be the most convenient, reliable option.
In 2008, two babies were safely given up in Yolo County. Since June 30, 2008, 251 newborns were “safely surrendered” in California.
Many welcome the opportunity as a means of providing security and nurturing to neglected newborns.
“We are grateful to the UC Davis fire department for providing this safe haven for newborns at risk,” said Helen M. Thomson, Yolo County Board of Supervisors vice chair.
The law was implemented in 2001. In October 2005 Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed legislature to expand the law permanently, taken into effect Jan. 1, 2006.
ELENI STEPHANIDES can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.