Assembly will take up bill to teach teens about N.J. Safe Haven law after Neptune newborn discarded in dumpster

TRENTON, N.J. – An 18-year-old Neptune High School student stands accused of suffocating and murdering her baby. After the heinous act? Authorities say the newborn’s father disposed of the dead infant in a dumpster.

Assemblyman Anthony M. Bucco (R-25) says he spoke with Democrat Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin who will post A1380 for a vote; if passed and signed by Governor Murphy, all New Jersey school districts will be required to teach teenager students in grades 9 through 12 about the state’s Safe Haven law. 

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“Had this young woman known about the state’s Safe Haven Infant Protection Act, this unthinkable tragedy may have been averted,” said Bucco. “This legislation will educate our teens of an avenue to safely surrender a child without repercussions if they happen to find themselves in that unfortunate situation.  I am thankful that Speaker Coughlin is a prime sponsor of this legislation with me and has agreed to move it in May so that we can begin to reach teenagers before it’s too late.”

New Jersey’s Safe Haven law permits new parents to leave newborns (under 30 days old) at New Jersey hospitals, police stations, fire stations, first aid squads, and emergency departments. No questions are asked and the parents are not subject to prosecution provided the child has not been harmed.

The Senate companion legislation (S1126) passed by an overwhelming 35-0 margin last June.

Bucco says the Assembly vote will occur in May.

New Jersey high schools presently instruct students in contraceptive use but don’t discuss the Safe Have option, one which supporters believe could save the lives of children and teenagers on the verge of making a major mistake. 

“Too often we hear the heartbreaking stories of teen mothers hiding their pregnancies and going through the birth process alone, unprepared emotionally and physically for the needs of a newborn baby. Sometimes these incidents end tragically with the child being killed and the mother and father facing criminal prosecution,” added Marie Tasy, the executive director of New Jersey Right to Life (NJRTL). “We commend Assemblyman Bucco and Speaker Coughlin for their sponsorship of this important legislation and look forward to its swift passage in the Assembly and governor’s signature.”

There’s basis to believe that the law is unknown. Only three ‘safe haven surrenders’ were recorded in New Jersey last year.

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