13.34.350  <<  13.34.360 >>   13.34.370

Transfer of newborn to qualified personCriminal liabilityNotification to child protective servicesDefinitions.

(1) For purposes of this section:
(a) "Appropriate location" means (i) the emergency department of a hospital licensed under chapter 70.41 RCW during the hours the hospital is in operation; (ii) a fire station during its hours of operation and while fire personnel are present; or (iii) a federally designated rural health clinic during its hours of operation.
(b) "Newborn" means a live human being who is less than seventy-two hours old.
(c) "Qualified person" means (i) any person that the parent transferring the newborn reasonably believes is a bona fide employee, volunteer, or medical staff member of the hospital or federally designated rural health clinic and who represents to the parent transferring the newborn that he or she can and will summon appropriate resources to meet the newborn's immediate needs; or (ii) a firefighter, volunteer, or emergency medical technician at a fire station who represents to the parent transferring the newborn that he or she can and will summon appropriate resources to meet the newborn's immediate needs.
(2) A parent of a newborn who transfers the newborn to a qualified person at an appropriate location is not subject to criminal liability under RCW 9A.42.060, 9A.42.070, 9A.42.080, 26.20.030, or 26.20.035.
(3)(a) The qualified person at an appropriate location shall not require the parent transferring the newborn to provide any identifying information in order to transfer the newborn.
(b) The qualified person at an appropriate location shall attempt to protect the anonymity of the parent who transfers the newborn, while providing an opportunity for the parent to anonymously give the qualified person such information as the parent knows about the family medical history of the parents and the newborn. The qualified person at an appropriate location shall provide referral information about adoption options, counseling, appropriate medical and emotional aftercare services, domestic violence, and legal rights to the parent seeking to transfer the newborn.
(c) If a parent of a newborn transfers the newborn to a qualified person at an appropriate location pursuant to this section, the qualified person shall cause child protective services to be notified within twenty-four hours after receipt of such a newborn. Child protective services shall assume custody of the newborn within twenty-four hours after receipt of notification.
(d) A federally designated rural health clinic is not required to provide ongoing medical care of a transferred newborn beyond that already required by law and may transfer the newborn to a hospital licensed under chapter 70.41 RCW. The federally designated rural health clinic shall notify child protective services of the transfer of the newborn to the hospital.
(e) A hospital, federally designated rural health clinic, or fire station, its employees, volunteers, and medical staff are immune from any criminal or civil liability for accepting or receiving a newborn under this section.
(4)(a) Beginning July 1, 2011, an appropriate location shall post a sign indicating that the location is an appropriate place for the safe and legal transfer of a newborn.
(b) To cover the costs of acquiring and placing signs, appropriate locations may accept nonpublic funds and donations.
(5) The department shall collect and compile information concerning the number of newborns transferred under this section after June 7, 2018. The department shall report its findings to the public annually, which may be on its web site, beginning July 31, 2018.

NOTES:

FindingsIntent2018 c 182: "The legislature finds that on February 12, 2014, the body of a newborn girl was found near the side of a road in North Bend, Washington, wrapped in a blanket. The newborn was less than half a mile away from Snoqualmie valley hospital, a location where infants can be safely and anonymously surrendered under Washington state's safety of newborn children law. The legislature further finds that while national estimates are that safe surrender laws across the country have saved well over one thousand infants in the past decade, surprisingly little is known about how many abandonment incidents occur and how many could have been or have been prevented through safe surrender laws.
The legislature further finds that no newborn should be abandoned to die alone and hungry as its first and only exposure to the world, any life that can be saved under the safety of the newborn children law is worth saving, and understanding the characteristics of newborn abandonment and knowing when and where they occur is crucial for developing effective public awareness strategies to make caregivers aware of the state's safe surrender option. The legislature further finds that while existing state law requires persons receiving infants under the safety of newborn children law to notify child protective services, which is situated within the Washington state department of social and health services children's administration, within twenty-four hours, there is no statutory requirement for the department of social and health services to report data on surrendered newborns. The legislature therefore intends to require the department of social and health services to provide consistent tracking and regular public reporting of safe surrender information statewide and to regularly publish information on safe surrenders." [ 2018 c 182 § 1.]
Intent2002 c 331: "The legislature intends to increase the likelihood that pregnant women will obtain adequate prenatal care and will provide their newborns with adequate health care during the first few days of their lives. The legislature recognizes that prenatal and postdelivery health care for newborns and their mothers is especially critical to their survival and well-being. The legislature does not intend to encourage the abandonment of newborn children nor to change existing law relating to notification to parents under chapter 13.34 RCW, but rather to assure that abandonment does not occur and that all newborns have an opportunity for adequate health care and a stable home life." [ 2002 c 331 § 1.]
Effective date2002 c 331: "Sections 1 through 7 of this act are necessary for the immediate preservation of the public peace, health, or safety, or support of the state government and its existing public institutions, and take effect immediately [April 3, 2002]." [ 2002 c 331 § 9.]
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