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A362, R424, H4678
Sponsors: Reps. G.M. Smith, Weeks and Coates
Document Path: l:\council\bills\nbd\12158ac06.doc
Introduced in the House on February 16, 2006
Introduced in the Senate on March 21, 2006
Last Amended on May 25, 2006
Passed by the General Assembly on June 1, 2006
Governor's Action: June 12, 2006, Signed
Summary: Infants voluntarily left at hospital
HISTORY OF LEGISLATIVE ACTIONS
Date Body Action Description with journal page number ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 2/16/2006 House Introduced and read first time HJ-38 2/16/2006 House Referred to Committee on Judiciary HJ-38 3/9/2006 House Member(s) request name added as sponsor: Coates 3/15/2006 House Committee report: Favorable with amendment Judiciary HJ-3 3/16/2006 House Amended HJ-16 3/16/2006 House Read second time HJ-17 3/16/2006 House Unanimous consent for third reading on next legislative day HJ-17 3/17/2006 House Read third time and sent to Senate HJ-2 3/21/2006 Senate Introduced and read first time SJ-10 3/21/2006 Senate Referred to Committee on Judiciary SJ-10 3/21/2006 Senate Referred to Subcommittee: Ritchie (ch), Rankin, Lourie, Scott 5/24/2006 Senate Committee report: Favorable with amendment Judiciary SJ-19 5/25/2006 Senate Amended SJ-69 5/25/2006 Senate Read second time SJ-69 5/31/2006 Senate Read third time and returned to House with amendments 6/1/2006 House Concurred in Senate amendment and enrolled HJ-45 6/7/2006 Ratified R 424 6/12/2006 Signed By Governor 6/15/2006 Copies available 6/15/2006 Effective date 06/12/06 6/23/2006 Act No. 362
View the latest legislative information at the LPITS web site
VERSIONS OF THIS BILL
(A362, R424, H4678)
AN ACT TO AMEND SECTION 20-7-85, CODE OF LAWS OF SOUTH CAROLINA, 1976, RELATING TO INFANTS VOLUNTARILY LEFT AT A HOSPITAL BY A PARENT OR AT THE DIRECTION OF A PARENT AND PROVIDING IMMUNITY TO SUCH PARENT OR PERSON UNDER CERTAIN CIRCUMSTANCES, SO AS TO PROVIDE THAT AN INFANT MAY ALSO BE LEFT AT A LAW ENFORCEMENT AGENCY, A FIRE STATION, AN EMERGENCY MEDICAL SERVICES STATION, OR A STAFFED HOUSE OF WORSHIP; TO INCLUDE THESE LOCATIONS, AS WELL AS HOSPITALS, IN THE DEFINITION OF "SAFE HAVEN", TO PROVIDE THAT SUCH IMMUNITY ATTACHES WHEN AN INFANT IS LEFT IN THE PHYSICAL CUSTODY OF A STAFF MEMBER OR EMPLOYEE OF A SAFE HAVEN, AND TO PROVIDE THAT A LAW ENFORCEMENT AGENCY, FIRE STATION, EMERGENCY MEDICAL SERVICES STATION, OR A HOUSE OF WORSHIP MUST TRANSPORT AN INFANT TO A HOSPITAL WHEN THE INFANT IS LEFT AT SUCH A LOCATION.
Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the State of South Carolina:
"Safe haven" for infants; procedures, care, immunity, definition of terms, and incidence reporting
SECTION 1. Section 20-7-85 of the 1976 Code, as added by Act 326 of 2000, is amended to read:
"Section 20-7-85. (A) A safe haven in this State must, without a court order, take temporary physical custody of an infant who is voluntarily left with the safe haven by a person who does not express an intent to return for the infant and the circumstances give rise to a reasonable belief that the person does not intend to return for the infant. If the safe haven is a hospital or hospital outpatient facility, the hospital or hospital facility shall perform any act necessary to protect the physical health or safety of the infant; any other safe haven shall, as soon as possible, but no later than six hours after receiving an infant, transport the infant to a hospital or hospital outpatient facility. The person leaving the infant is not required to disclose his or her identity; however, the person must leave the infant in the physical custody of a staff member or employee of the safe haven.
(B)(1) The safe haven must offer the person leaving the infant information concerning the legal effect of leaving the infant with the safe haven.
(2) The safe haven must ask the person leaving the infant to identify any parent of the infant other than the person leaving the infant with the safe haven. The safe haven also must attempt to obtain from the person information concerning the infant's background and medical history as specified on a form provided by the Department of Social Services. This information includes, but is not limited to, information concerning the use of a controlled substance by the infant's mother, provided that information regarding the use of a controlled substance by the infant's mother is not admissible as evidence of the unlawful use of a controlled substance in any court proceeding. The safe haven shall give the person a copy of the form and a prepaid envelope for mailing the form to the Department of Social Services if the person does not wish to provide the information to the safe haven. These materials must be provided to safe havens by the department.
(3) Any identifying information disclosed by the person leaving the infant must be kept confidential by the safe haven and disclosed to no one other than the department. However, if a court determines that the immunity provisions of subsection (H) do not apply, the safe haven may disclose the information as permitted by confidentiality protections applicable to records of the safe haven, if the safe haven has such confidentiality protections for records. The department shall maintain confidentiality of this information in accordance with Section 20-7-690.
(C) Not later than the close of the first business day after the date on which a hospital or hospital outpatient facility takes possession of an infant pursuant to subsection (A), the hospital or hospital outpatient facility shall notify the department that it has taken temporary physical custody of the infant. The department has legal custody of the infant immediately upon receipt of the notice. The department shall assume physical control of the infant as soon as practicable upon receipt of the notice, but no later than twenty-four hours after receiving notice that the infant is ready for discharge from the hospital or hospital outpatient facility. Assumption of custody by the department pursuant to this subsection does not constitute emergency protective custody, and the provisions of Section 20-7-610 do not apply. The department is not required to initiate a child protective services investigation solely because an infant comes into its custody under this subsection.
(D) Immediately after receiving notice from a hospital or hospital outpatient facility pursuant to subsection (C), the department shall contact the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division for assistance in assuring that the infant is not a missing infant. The South Carolina Law Enforcement Division shall treat the request as ongoing for a period of thirty days and shall contact the department if a missing infant report is received that might relate to the infant.
(E)(1) Within forty-eight hours after taking legal custody of the infant, the department shall publish notice, in a newspaper of general circulation in the area where the safe haven that initially took the infant is located, and send a news release to broadcast and print media in the area. The notice and the news release must state the circumstances under which the infant was left at the safe haven, a description of the infant, and the date, time, and place of the permanency planning hearing provided for in subsection (E)(2). The notice and the news release must also state that any person wishing to assert parental rights in regard to the infant must do so at the hearing. If the person leaving the infant identified anyone as being a parent of the infant, the notice must be sent by certified mail to the last known address of the person identified as a parent at least two weeks prior to the hearing.
(2) Within forty-eight hours after obtaining legal custody of the infant, the department shall file a petition alleging that the infant has been abandoned, that the court should dispense with reasonable efforts to preserve or reunify the family, that continuation of keeping the infant in the home of the parent or parents would be contrary to the welfare of the infant, and that termination of parental rights is in the best interest of the infant. A hearing on the petition must be held no earlier than thirty and no later than sixty days after the department takes legal custody of the infant. This hearing is the permanency planning hearing for the infant. If the court approves the permanent plan of termination of parental rights, the order must also provide that a petition for termination of parental rights on the grounds of abandonment must be filed within ten days after receipt of the order by the department.
(F) The act of leaving an infant with a safe haven pursuant to this section is conclusive evidence that the infant has been abused or neglected for purposes of Department of Social Services' jurisdiction and for evidentiary purposes in any judicial proceeding in which abuse or neglect of an infant is an issue. It is also conclusive evidence that the requirements for termination of parental rights have been satisfied as to any parent who left the infant or acted in concert with the person leaving the infant.
(G) A person who leaves an infant at a safe haven or directs another person to do so must not be prosecuted for any criminal offense on account of such action if:
(1) the person is a parent of the infant or is acting at the direction of a parent;
(2) the person leaves the infant in the physical custody of a staff member or an employee of the safe haven; and
(3) the infant is not more than thirty days old or the infant is reasonably determined by the hospital or hospital outpatient facility to be not more than thirty days old.
This subsection does not apply to prosecution for the infliction of any harm upon the infant other than the harm inherent in abandonment.
(H) A safe haven and its agents, and any health care professionals practicing within a hospital or hospital outpatient facility, are immune from civil or criminal liability for any action authorized by this section, so long as the safe haven, or health care professional, complies with all provisions of this section.
(I) The department, either alone or in collaboration with any other public entity, shall take appropriate measures to achieve public awareness of the provisions of this section.
(J) For purposes of this section:
(1) 'infant' means a person not more than thirty days old; and
(2) 'safe haven' means a hospital or hospital outpatient facility, a law enforcement agency, a fire station, an emergency medical services station, or any staffed house of worship during hours when the facility is staffed.
(K) Annually the department shall submit a report to the General Assembly containing data on infants who come into the custody of the department pursuant to this section. The data must include, but are not limited to, the date, time, and place where the infant was left, the hospital to which the infant was taken, the health of the infant at the time of being admitted to the hospital, disposition and placement of the infant, and, if available, circumstances surrounding the infant being left at the safe haven. No data in the report may contain identifying information."
SECTION 2. This act takes effect upon approval by the Governor.
Ratified the 7th day of June, 2006.
Approved the 12th day of June, 2006.
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