Published On: Thu, May 9th, 2019

Florida Safe Haven Law: No one Ever Has to Abandon a Newborn Again

By Robert S Weinroth

The heartbreaking headline of an abandoned newborn found in a dumpster west of Boca Raton is difficult to reconcile.

Florida, like all 50 states and Washington DC, enacted a “safe haven” law to offer mothers who are unable or unwilling to care for their baby a legal, no questions asked option.

While the provisions of Safe Haven laws differ by jurisdiction, in Florida, a newborn up to 7 days old need only be taken to a safe haven location. The law provides that a distressed parent who leaves a newborn with a firefighter, emergency medical technician or paramedic at a fire station or emergency services station or brings a newborn infant to an emergency room of a hospital and expresses an intent to leave the newborn and not return has the absolute right to remain anonymous and to leave at any time and may not be pursued or followed unless they later seek to reclaim the child.

No criminal investigation will be initiated solely because the newborn is left at the safe haven location unless there is actual or suspected child abuse or neglect.

Women taking advantage of Safe Haven laws should be applauded, not condemned. Rather than leaving their newborns to die, mothers can offer their babies a second chance even though it likely means making what is most difficult choice they will ever have to make.

Florida’s Safe Haven law is a way for scared, desperate mothers to choose life for themselves, and their newborns without criminal repercussions.

About the Author

- Robert Weinroth is a 27 year resident of Boca Raton where he is an attorney, businessman, former member of the City Council (where he served for four years) and currently serves as an elected member of the Palm Beach County Board of County Commissioners. Commissioner Weinroth went to Boston’s Northeastern University where he earned a BSBA in Management. He went on to earn his Juris Doctor at New England School of Law. He is admitted to practice law in Florida, Massachusetts, New Jersey and the Supreme Court of the United States. Weinroth served as president and general counsel of Freedom Medical Services Inc, an accredited medical supply company in Boca Raton. FREEDOMED® represented the realization of an entrepreneurial dream. Weinroth, and his wife Pamela operated the company for 16 years, eventually selling the business in 2016. Weinroth takes great pride in his past work as a volunteer Guardian ad Litem for the 15th Judicial Circuit, advocating for the needs of abused and neglected children deemed dependent by the Court. After serving on multiple community boards and committees, Weinroth was elected to the Boca Raton City Council in 2014. During his tenure, he served as CRA Vice-chair and Deputy Mayor and was appointed to a number of county boards including the Boca Raton Airport Authority, the Palm Tran Service Board, the Palm Beach Transportation Planning Agency, the Treasure Coast Planning Council and was elected a board member of the Palm Beach County League of Cities. As a newly elected County Commissioner, Weinroth has been appointed Vice-Chair of the Solid Waste Authority, a board member of the PBC Transportation Planning Agency, and alternate representative on the Treasure Coast Planning Agency and several other county and regional boards. Robert, Pamela and their two dogs, Sierra and Siggy, are proud to call Boca Raton home.

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  1. Pam Stenzel says:

    While Florida needs to do a much better job of Safe Haven Awareness, we should listen to what these women in crisis are saying…they want complete anonymity. I answer the national hotline for Safe Haven Baby Boxes (1-866-99BABY1), and listen to the desperation of these mothers. We need to give them every option for help in making a safe surrender without fear. Florida had the third highest rate of illegal abandonment in the country in 2018. We need to do better.

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