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Maine Safe Haven Laws

In Maine, a person may voluntarily deliver his baby not more than 31 days old to any safe haven provider with intent not to take back the newborn.  The term “safe haven provider” as defined in 22 M.R.S. § 4018(1)(B) refers to a law enforcement officer; staff at a medical emergency room; a medical services provider; or a hospital staff member at a hospital.  The safe haven provider may request the person surrendering a newborn to provide information that may be helpful for the newborn’s welfare.  However, the person accepting custody of the newborn may not detain the relinquishing person to obtain any information.[i]

Upon accepting custody of the child the safe haven provider shall notify the Department that a child has been taken into custody and then transfer the child to the Department as soon as possible.  The Department has the responsibility of establishing guidelines to assist safe haven providers in understanding the procedures required while a child is delivered to the safe haven provider. [ii]

All personal identifying information of the person relinquishing the newborn that is disclosed to safe haven providers shall be kept confidential.  The information may be disclosed if there is a court order.   However, all health care or other information obtained by a safe haven provider may be transferred to the Department upon request. [iii]

Any person or entity accepting a child or providing temporary custody according to the Safe Haven laws shall not be subject to civil, criminal or administrative liability for accepting the child or providing temporary custody of the child in the good faith belief.  However, the person cannot claim immunity if there is personal injury or wrongful death, or injury resulting from medical malpractice. [iv]

Any person may raise an affirmative defense to prosecution under 17-A M.R.S. § 553 (dealing with abandonment of child) if the child is abandoned according to the Safe Haven laws to a safe haven provider; and is not more than 31 days old at the time of relinquishment.[v]

[i] 22 M.R.S. § 4018(2)

[ii] 22 M.R.S. § 4018(3)

[iii] 22 M.R.S. § 4018(4)

[iv] 22 M.R.S. § 4018(5)

[v] 17-A M.R.S. § 553(3)

Inside Maine Safe Haven Laws