Missouri Senate Bill Aims to Prevent Child Abandonment

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JEFFERSON CITY - The Missouri Senate endorsed a bill Tuesday that would allow parents 45 days to give up newborn children without legal consequences.

Senate Bill 256 modifies the state's Safe Place for Newborns Act of 2002. Currently, parents can legally relinquish a newborn up to five days old if they leave the child with a medical facility, fire department or law enforcement office. The new bill would extend the "safe harbor" period to 45 days and include maternity homes and pregnancy resource centers as acceptable places to leave a newborn.

In Columbia, the city fire department's battalion chief said this legislation would not lead to any changes in the department's open door policy. "It really doesn't make any difference to us," James Weaver said. "What we're interested in is that the child is not going to be hurt or abandoned."

The bill, sponsored by Ryan Silvey (R-Kansas City), will go through another vote in the Senate before moving to the Missouri House of Representatives. The bill includes a provision to allow school districts to provide at least 30 minutes each year of age-appropriate education regarding the Safe Place for Newborns Act.