NEW YORK (PIX11) — “Nobody wanted to put their name on a bill that would legally allow somebody to hand a baby over with no questions,” said Tim Jaccard.
Jaccard, a medical officer with the Nassau County Police Department, was horrified when in a span of just a few weeks he encountered several cases of neonaticide, babies being killed within the first 24 hours of birth.
Jaccard worked with lawmakers in New York and beyond to create what’s now known as the Safe Haven Act.
New York State passed its own version in 2000.
Since that year, 2894 babies were given up safely under the law, more than 200 right here in New York State.
Jaccard says the children find homes with adoptive families almost immediately.
Two-year-old Gabriella is one of them. She was given up when she was only two-days-old at Coney Island Hospital.
Lisa Zwart- East Meadow
“When we got the call about Gabriella, she was actually already born,” said Lisa Swart. “When you don’t know what else to do or you think you don’t have another option, I think about it all the time.”
While PSAs were more visible years ago, funding for new ones is tough to come by. The state’s program operates on a budget of only $350,000 a year.
“There are no resources for us to get the message out there other than when a tragedy takes place,” said Jaccard. “If I could get somebody just to give me a grant to do PSAs like this, we would be in very good shape in New York.”
The law allows a woman to drop off a baby up to 30 days after birth at a firehouse, hospital or police department or even in the hands of a responsible adult, without ever facing any repercussions or criminal charges.
In the case of Frankea Dabbs, if she had simply handed her 10-month-old to another person instead of pushing the baby’s stroller onto a subway platform Monday, she would be free of charges and perhaps not all over the evening news.
This year alone, nine babies are safe because of Safe Haven, six of those babies in the NY metropolitan area.
“I look at it everyday, if we don’t rescue another baby this year…I have 9 children who are alive and ding very well because of what the Safe Haven law has accomplished,” Jaccard said.