"This is an important step in
protecting the state's most vulnerable children," said Gov.
Blagojevich. "More young lives may be saved by making the process
easier for parents of newborns who are unable to care for them and
are looking for answers."
Senate Bill 2583, sponsored by Rep. Beth Coulson, R-Glenview,
and Sen. Donne Trotter, D-Chicago, passed unanimously in both
The original 2001 Abandoned Newborn
Infant Protection Act granted parents immunity from criminal
prosecution if they safely abandoned their infants within 72 hours
of birth. However, the law allowed only hospitals, medical emergency
facilities and fire stations to accept the newborns. The new law
expands the list of available sites to include police stations used
by the state's more than 1,100 law enforcement agencies.
During the past three years, 22
abandoned infants who met the age requirement under the act were
reported to the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services.
At least two of another 13 infants who were not relinquished to an
appropriate safe haven had been brought to police stations.
While abandonment of an infant can be
done anonymously, staff at police stations and other accepting
facilities may provide an information packet to the parent or
guardian to help explain their rights and available resources, as
well as the Illinois Medical Information and Exchange Form to
provide medical information, which might prove useful for the baby
later in life.
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If a newborn infant is relinquished to
a police station, the staff will transport the infant to the nearest
hospital as soon as possible. If the parent of a newborn infant
returns to the police station within 72 hours after relinquishing
the infant, staff at the police station must inform the parent of
the name and location of the hospital where the child was taken.
Parents wishing to regain custody of their infant must petition the
court within 60 days.
Illinois became the 15th state to pass
a "safe haven" law that protects abandoned infants and offers
immunity for the parents and guardians who relinquish them; 45
states now have similar laws.
"Our state was an early leader in this
important effort, but we should constantly look for better ways to
save children from harm," said Department of Children and Family
Services Director Bryan Samuels. "The risk of babies in dumpsters
without regard for the infants' safety is still real and is usually
the act of a young mother who is desperate and believes she has no
alternative. Our partnerships with private groups, the public
information campaigns and the willingness of thousands of medical
facilities, fire stations and police stations to open their doors to
accept abandoned infants collectively sends a message that we care
and are ready to help."
The number to call for parents or
guardians who are thinking of abandoning their newborn infant is 1
2583 is effective immediately.
from the governor's office;
provided by Logan County ESDA]