FRANKFORT, Ky. – Kentucky churches might soon be able to accept unwanted infants under legislation passed in the Senate Wednesday.
House Bill 148, which would permit the storage and use of epi-pens for emergencies in daycare centers across the state, passed 37-0 in the Senate.
But an amendment to the bill would also add churches to the list of safe havens where unwanted babies can be dropped off without parents being criminally charged.
The amendment would also increase the age limit from three days to 30 days.
The current law, the Kentucky Safe Infants Act, allows parents to anonymously place infants aged 3 days or younger at police, fire and ambulance stations and hospital emergency rooms.
Since the law was initially adopted in 2002, 38 infants have been dropped off at medical facilities in the state, according to the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services.
As long as the baby is not injured, the law ensures that the parent or person acting for the child will not be liable.
Sen. Julie Raque Adams, R-Louisville, proposed the amendments.
“Churches are a safe place for babies to go,” Raque Adams said, “and they are prevalent throughout our communities.”
Churches wanting to participate in the Safe Haven program would need to display a sign stating its participation and operating hours during which staff will be present.
When an infant is dropped off, a church staff member would immediately contact 911 to transport the baby to the nearest hospital emergency room.
Paul Chitwood, executive director of the Kentucky Baptist Convention, welcomed the legislation.
“Kentucky Baptists are committed to the sanctity of life from conception until natural death and, as such, we want to do all we can to ensure that crisis pregnancies don't have to place a child's life in danger,” he said.
“One of the practical things we can do is receive these children into care.”
The Kentucky Baptist Convention is a cooperating group of nearly 2,400 churches in Kentucky.
The amendment now returns to the House for concurrence.