County Exec urged to raise awareness of newborn surrender options

The Metropolitan King County Council’s Law, Justice, Health and Human Services Committee has called on County Executive Dow Constantine to create a task force to examine ways of increasing awareness of the options available to parents for legally and safely giving up a newborn.

The motion was drafted partly in response to an incident on Feb. 12, when a walker discovered the body of a baby girl in a wooded area in North Bend. It is possible that the child’s fate might have been different had her parents taken advantage of a 2002 state law.

In Washington state, parents can leave newborns with  hospitals, fire stations or designated clinics. The Safety of Newborn Children Law allows parents to do this anonymously up to 72 hours after the birth of a child without fear of prosecution for abandonment.

“There are legal alternatives to abandonment of a newborn,” said Councilmember Kathy Lambert. “Our communities and citizens need to be aware of this information so right choices can be made to save lives.”

The task force will include representatives from local cities, health care institutions, public health, criminal justice, human service agencies, and first responders. It is expected to present a report to the council by Oct. 30.


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