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Arizona Safe Haven Laws

In Arizona, safe haven laws were enacted in the year 2001.  The state has organizations aiming to spread awareness of Arizona safe haven statutes.  The state also celebrates an Arizona safe baby haven day to raise awareness about the state law which helps desperate parents in relinquishing their unwanted newborns at places permitted by the statute without facing risk of any criminal liability.  In Arizona, parents may abandon their unharmed newborns not older than 3 days at any places such as hospital, fire station, private welfare agency, adoption agency or church.[i]  Relinquishment should be according to the state laws to escape criminal liability.[ii]

Safe haven providers may take custody of newborn infants relinquished voluntarily by infant’s parents or agents of parents if they reasonably believe that an infant is not more than 72 days old.[iii]  Additionally, infant’s parents or agents of parents should not express an intention to take back the infant.[iv]  The term “safe haven provider” as defined in the A.R.S. § 13-3623.01 (H)(2) shall mean any of the following:

(a) A firefighter who is on duty.

(b) An emergency medical technician who is on duty.

(c) A staff member at a health care institution that is classified by the department of health services pursuant to section 36-405 as a hospital or an outpatient treatment center.

(d) A staff member or volunteer at any of the following that posts a public notice that it is willing to accept a newborn infant pursuant to this section:

(i) A private child welfare agency licensed pursuant to title 8, chapter 5, article 1.

(ii) An adoption agency licensed pursuant to section 8-126.

(iii) A church. For the purposes of this item, “church” means a building that is erected or converted for use as a church, where services are regularly convened, that is used primarily for religious worship and schooling and that a reasonable person would conclude is a church by reason of design, signs or architectural or other features.

Arizona safe haven law requires fire stations and health care institutions classified by the department of health services as hospitals or outpatient treatment centers, to post notices at all entrances that it would accept newborn infants.  The notice should be placed on the exterior of the building in a manner easily noticeable by the public, and may include the identifying logo.  The notice should be printed in bold capital letters.  The letters should be either two inches or more in height.  However, if fire stations or hospitals do not put such notice, they shall not be subject to any civil liability.[v]

Any parent or agent of parent who relinquishes an unharmed newborn not more than three days old to any safe haven provider designated by law escapes from criminal liability for abandonment.[vi]  Additionally, any person leaving a newborn infant with a safe haven provider may remain anonymous.  They are not required to answer any questions asked by safe haven providers.  A newborn infant left with a safe haven provider whose father and mother cannot be determined is called a foundling.[vii]

Safe haven provider taking custody of infant shall inform the Child Protective Services of the Department of Economic Security as soon as practicable the receipt of the newborn infant.[viii]   Child Protective Services of the Department of Economic Security shall compile all information relating to the number of newborn infants delivered to safe haven providers on a semiannual basis ending March 31 and September 30 of each year.[ix]  

Safe haven providers taking custody of a newborn infant is exempt from any civil or other damages for any act or omission by the safe haven provider in maintaining custody of the newborn infant.[x] However, to claim exemption, the safe haven providers should have acted in good faith without gross negligence, while discharging their duties.

[i] A.R.S. § 13-3623.01

[ii] A.R.S. § 13-3623.01

[iii] A.R.S. § 13-3623.01

[iv] A.R.S. § 13-3623.01

[v] A.R.S. § 13-3623.01

[vi] A.R.S. § 13-3623.01

[vii] A.R.S. § 36-301

[viii] A.R.S. § 13-3623.01

[ix] A.R.S. § 8-526

[x] A.R.S. § 13-3623.01

Inside Arizona Safe Haven Laws