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After SCOTUS Hearing, A New Look At Baby ‘safe haven’ Laws

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Nicole Olson and her son Porter, 10, look at his baby pictures at their home, Thursday, Dec. 17, 2021, in Phoenix. Porter was relinquished at birth through what's known as a safe haven law. Safe Haven laws, which exist in every state, allow parents to leave a baby at a safe location without criminal consequences. (AP Photo/Matt York)

(AP) — Safe haven laws drew attention this month when U.S. Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett questioned the role they play in the debate around abortion rights.

Slightly over 4,000 babies have been surrendered since the first law took effect in 1999, according to the National Safe Haven Alliance and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Most child welfare advocates praise the laws, saying they keep babies alive and safe when a birth parent isn’t able to care for them. But advocates caution that seeing the laws as an alternative to abortion is flawed: They don’t consider the health and economic risks a woman faces in pregnancy, or the risks of childbirth in the U.S., which has the highest maternal mortality rate among developed countries.

 

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