Speaker agrees to post Bucco bill requiring high schools provide information on Safe Haven law
Trenton, N.J. – Last week, first-degree murder charges were brought against an 18-year-old Neptune High School student who suffocated her newborn before the baby’s father threw him in a dumpster.
Following the incident, Assemblyman Anthony M. Bucco called Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin who agreed to advance their bill (A1380) requiring school districts to provide students in grades 9 through 12 with information on the Safe Haven law. It will be posted in May for a vote in the Assembly.
“Had this young woman known about the state’s Safe Haven Infant Protection Act, this unthinkable tragedy may have been averted,” said Bucco (R-Morris). “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.”
Supporters say that if teens learn about the law in school, they will be less likely to panic and abandon their babies in life-threatening situations. The law allows parents to drop off their unwanted and unharmed infants who are younger than 30 days old at police stations, emergency departments, first aid squads and fire stations with no questions asked and without fear of prosecution.
“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,” said Marie Tasy, executive director of New Jersey Right to Life. “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.”
A Senate version of Bucco’s bill (S1126) passed by a 35-0 vote in June last year.