Safety of Newborn Children Law
Following are highlights of the requirements under the Safety of Newborn Children Law:
Within 72 hours of an infant’s birth, you can leave an infant at any hospital without fear of prosecution. An infant is most vulnerable within the first few hours of life, so it is critical that the infant receives any needed medical care.
Designated Drop-Off Locations
You must leave your baby with a qualified person at one of the following 3 locations to avoid prosecution:
- The emergency department of a hospital in Washington State. This is the safest drop-off location.
- A fire station during its hours of operation. The law states that you may drop off your infant at a fire station, however, this is not the safest drop-off location. Some fire stations may not be staffed, or may be empty for extended periods of time while crews respond to emergencies. Under the Safety of Newborn Children Law, you mustleave your infant with a qualified person.
- Federally designated rural health clinic during its hours of operation.
A parent of a newborn who leaves their newborn with a qualified person at a designated drop-off location is not subject to criminal liability. A qualified person means any person that you reasonably believe is:
- An employee, volunteer, or medical staff member of a hospital or federally designated rural health clinic during its hours of operation.
- A fire fighter, volunteer, or emergency medical technician at a fire station.
As long as the newborn is brought in unharmed from abuse or neglect, the guarantee of anonymity and immunity from prosecution applies.
Official Legislative Laws
Revised Code of Washington 9A.42.060-080 (RCW 9A.42.060-080) – Abandonment of a Dependent Person.
Revised Code of Washington 13.34.360 (RCW 13.34.360) – Transfer of newborn to qualified person/ Criminal liability/Notification to child protective services/Definitions.
Revised Code of Washington 26.20.030-035 (RCW 26.20.030-035) – Family Abandonment/Family Support.