Newborn Left on Beach Despite Safe Haven Law

By Aditi Mukherji, JD on April 30, 2013 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

A newborn was left on the beach in East Honolulu. The likely incredibly adorable full-term, 8-pound baby girl, who was abandoned right after birth on the beach, is alive and doing well, reports the Associated Press.

Turning the bummer situation into a teachable moment, officials in Hawaii are encouraging people to take advantage of the state's newborn safe haven law.

Hawaii's Safe Haven Law

In 2007, Hawaii became the 48th state with a safe haven law, reports the AP. But no one has used it yet. (Come on, people!)

Like its name suggests, Hawaii's safe haven law lets a person leave an unharmed newborn at designated locations without fear of being criminally prosecuted. The baby can be left within 72 hours of birth at a fire department, police station or hospital with emergency serivces.

Within 24 hours of receiving an unharmed newborn, the provider has to inform the Department of Human Services -- but not until the person leaving the child has left the area. So if the baby is left unharmed, a person can leave without facing any criminal liability.

But if the newborn is received in a harmed condition, the provider has to notify law enforcement, regardless of whether or not the person who left the baby is still on the premises.

What's Next?

If no one comes forward to claim the newborn, the Department of Human Services will file a petition this week with family court, asking for custody, the AP reports. A hearing is set for Monday.

But if no relatives are identified, the state will ask the court for permission to release a photo of the newborn, in an attempt to find her parents.

Fortunately, the newborn left on the beach was found unharmed. But because she was abandoned, charges of child endangerment and abandonment are possible.

Rather than face criminal charges and put a baby's life in danger, officials in Hawaii are pleading with the public to take advantage of the safe haven law. Hawaii's toll-free baby safe haven hotline is (800) 494-3991.

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