The Newborn Infant Protection Act governs the safe haven laws in Kansas. [i] The Act was passed in response to the tragedies resulting from the unsafe abandonment of newborns. The Act provides a safe alternative to surrender unwanted newborns to safe locations permitted by law without fear of prosecution.
According to the Act, a parent or other person having lawful custody of an infant may surrender physical custody of an infant not older than 45 days to any employee who is on duty at a fire station, city or county health department or medical care facility as defined by K.S.A. 65-425. Additionally, the Act requires that the infant must not be subject to any bodily harm at the time of surrendering it to any facility recognized and permitted by the Act.
The employee at the fire station/ city or county health department/medical care facility shall take physical custody of an infant surrendered according to the Act.[ii] Such employees accepting physical custody of an infant according to the Act shall notify a local law enforcement agency that the person has taken physical custody of an infant pursuant to the Act. The employee must notify the agency soon after accepting custody. Upon receipt of such notice a law enforcement officer from such law enforcement agency shall take custody of the infant as an abandoned child. After that, the law enforcement agency shall deliver the infant to a facility or person designated by the secretary pursuant to K.S.A. 2008 Supp. 38-2232. [iii]
Any person, city, county, agency, or medical care facility taking physical custody of an infant surrendered pursuant to the Act shall perform all acts necessary to protect the physical health or safety of the infant. The Act protects the person, or facility accepting custody of the relinquished child by making it immune from liability for any injury to the infant that may result from performing acts to protect the health and safety of the child.[iv]
On request, all medical records of the infant shall be made available to the department of social and rehabilitation services and given to the person awarded custody of such infant. The medical facility providing such records shall be immune from liability for releasing such records.[v]
At a hearing for termination of parental rights, a finding of unfitness may be made if the court finds that the custody of the child was surrendered pursuant to the Newborn infant protection act, or the child was left under such circumstances that the identity of the parents is unknown and cannot be ascertained, despite diligent searching, and the parents have not come forward to claim the child within three months after the child is found.[vii]
[ii] K.S.A. § 38-2282(b)
[iii] K.S.A. § 38-2282(c)
[iv] K.S.A. § 38-2282(d)
[v] K.S.A. § 38-2282(e)
[vii] K.S.A. § 38-2269(d)