CHICAGO BAR ASSOCIATION (CBA) OPPOSES HB 3753 

This bill would amend the Abandoned Newborn Infant Protection Act (‘Safe Haven Law’). The CBA strongly opposes this bill because: 

  • It does not protect the rights of birth mothers and infants. 
  • It would pose significant safety risks to both birth mothers and infants. 
  • It is an extremely costly “solution” when Illinois law is already working well. 

BACKGROUND 

The 2001 Safe Haven Law prevents newborns from being abandoned unsafely (e.g., in alleyways/trash cans) by providing a safe, anonymous method of relinquishment, and immunizes the relinquishing parent from liability for abandonment. The infant must be handed directly to personnel at a hospital, fire station, police station or emergency medical facility. Trained staff must verbally provide information to the birth parents as to their rights, where the birth parent can go to receive counseling and medical care, and how to provide the child’s medical and family history information anonymously via the Illinois Adoption Registry. According to the Illinois Save Abandoned Baby Foundation and DCFS, over 125 infants have been relinquished anonymously since its passage (most recently 5 in 2020, 7 in 2019, and 9 in 2018). After relinquishment, infants are placed by licensed child welfare agencies into permanent adoptive homes. According to DCFS, nearly 30% of parents relinquishing under the Safe Haven Law in the past 5 years filed petitions for return of custody, obtained counseling and with the exception of one case, regained custody of the child. 

OVERVIEW – REASONS FOR OPPOSING HB 3753 

  • HB 3753 permits drop off of infants in boxes (so called newborn ‘safety devices’) at a relinquishment facility without any human interaction with trained health care professionals. 
  • HB 3753 flies in the face of Illinois public policy to provide relinquishing birth parents information about their rights, medical/counseling services, and future exchange of information with the child in the most effective manner -through trained professionals. 
  • HB 3753 poses numerous safety risks to both infant and parent because of the elimination of interaction with a health care professional. 
  • HB 3753 creates confusion as to how to relinquish an infant in the event there is not an available box. 
  • HB 3753 poses privacy risks. 
  • HB 3753 is dehumanizing both to newborn and parent. 
  • HB 3753 requires the costly purchase and maintenance of “baby boxes” even though the current Safe Haven Law is working successfully. 

FACT SHEET OPPOSING HB 3753 (BABY BOX BILL)

This bill would amend the Abandoned Newborn Infant Protection Act (‘Safe Haven Law’) to allow for the installation of so-called “Newborn Safety Devices”, also known as “Baby Boxes”, into which a parent can place a newborn infant when that parent is relinquishing the infant under this Act without any contact with trained health professionals. The Chicago Bar Association (CBA) strongly opposes this bill because:

  • It poses significant safety risks to both birth mothers and infants.
  • It is an extremely costly “solution” when Illinois law is already working well.
  • Birth parents would get no information about their rights.

BACKGROUND

The 2001 Safe Haven Law prevents newborn infants from being abandoned unsafely (e.g., in alleyways/trash cans) by providing a safe, anonymous method of relinquishment, and also immunizes the relinquishing parent from liability for abandonment. The infant must be handed directly to personnel at a hospital, fire station, police station or emergency medical facility. Trained staff must verbally provide information to the birth parent as to their rights, where the birth parent can go to receive counseling and medical care, and how to provide the child’s medical and family history information anonymously via the Illinois Adoption Registry. According to the Illinois Save Abandoned Baby Foundation and DCFS, over 125 infants have been relinquished anonymously since its passage (5 in 2020, 7 in 2019, and 9 in 2018). After relinquishment, infants are placed by licensed child welfare agencies into permanent adoptive homes. According to DCFS, nearly 30% of parents relinquishing under the Safe Haven Law in the past 5 years filed petitions for return of custody, obtained counseling and with the exception of one case, regained custody of the child.

REASONS FOR OPPOSING HB 3753

  • HB 3753 permits drop off of an infant into a box at a relinquishment facility without any human interaction with trained professionals.
  • HB 3753 requires the costly purchase and maintenance of “baby boxes” even though Illinois’ current Safe Haven Law is working successfully.
  • HB 3753 flies in the face of Illinois public policy and child welfare laws requiring that relinquishing birth parents receive information about their rights, medical/counseling services, and future exchange of information with the child in the most effective manner – through trained professionals.
  • HB 3753 poses numerous safety risks to both infant and parent because of the elimination of interaction with a health care professional who would otherwise be able to assess if either infant or parent needed medical help and take protective custody of the infant directly without it being left in a box for an unknown period of time
  • HB 3753 creates confusion as to how to relinquish an infant in the event there is not an available box at the relinquishment facility.
  • HB 3753 poses privacy risks to those relinquishing an infant as boxes are within public view
  • HB3753 is dehumanizing both to the infant and parent.

For more information, contact CBA Adoption Law Committee Legislative Sub-committee co-chairs Barbara Sereda, adptadv@msn.com, 847-721-2049 and Linda Coon, lcoonjd@gmail.com, 312-318-6366, or CBA Lobbyist Tom Suffredin, tomsuffredin@gmail.com, 312-816-5563.

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