Iowa has joined thirty other states in creating safe havens for infants. The Newborn Safe Haven Act (Iowa Code Chapter 233) is a law that allows parents (or another person who has the parent’s authorization) to leave an infant up to 14 days old at a hospital or healthcare facility without fear of prosecution for abandonment (DHS, 2017).
A safe haven is an institutional health facility, which is defined according to the Act to be:
The health facility may ask for but cannot require names of the parents and medical history of baby and parents. The facility must notify DHS as soon as possible by calling 800 362 2178 that physical custody of an infant has been taken under the Safe Haven Act. DHS will make the necessary court and legal contacts and assume care, control, and custody of the child.
The Act provides immunity from prosecution for abandonment for a parent (or a person acting with the parent’s authorization) who leaves an infant at a hospital or healthcare facility.
The Act provides immunity from civil or criminal liability for hospitals, healthcare facilities, and persons employed by those facilities that perform reasonable acts necessary to protect the physical health and safety of the infant (DHS, 2017).
More information for parents and facilities is available from the DHS website.