Tennessee safe haven law differs from other states

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - A Michigan mother left her 13-year-old son at a designated Nebraska "safe haven" over the weekend, making him the 18th child abandoned in that state in the last month.

Nebraska state health officials said the boy's mother drove more than 12 hours with the sole intention of dropping the teen off at a hospital under the state's unique safe haven law.

Lawmakers said the safe haven law exists for children to get the services they need, but others argue the system is being abused.

Tennessee laws are far stricter regarding safe havens: any hospital or medical clinic is considered a safe haven, the baby must be 72 hours old or younger, and only the mother can surrender her baby to ensure it's voluntary.

Tennessee's Safe Haven Law was passed to prevent babies from being abandoned in unsafe areas. Mothers who surrender their babies under those guidelines will not be prosecuted and are allowed to remain anonymous.

Once a safe haven receives an infant, the baby will be examined and an employee will contact the Department of Children's Services after the mother leaves.

To learn more about safe havens, call the hotline: (877) 768-3473.

Click here to e-mail Lori Brown.