Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds signed seven bills on Thursday, one of which was SF 360 which expands and enhances Iowa’s newborn “safe haven” law originally enacted in 2002. The Iowa Department of Human Services states that at least 20 children have been declared safe havens since the law was enacted. Every state has some version of a safe haven law. The law was designed to prevent the unsafe abandonment of newborns.

Iowa’s original safe haven law allowed parents, or a person they authorized, to leave a newborn infant up to 14-days-old at hospital, residential care facility, a nursing facility, or an intermediate care facility for persons with mental illness or mental retardation. If this is done the parents cannot be prosecuted for abandonment or be forced to provide identifying information. The new law expands that time period to 30 days.

The new law also allows a parent or authorized person to call 9-1-1 to have first responders to pick up a baby under 30-days-old. The baby would then be taken to the nearest “institutional health facility.”

The law requires the facility to contact the Iowa Department of Human Services who upon receiving a court order from juvenile court will take custody of the baby.

The bill also expands the privacy protection under the “safe haven” law to include the recordings and transcripts of any 9-1-1 calls made.

SF 360 passed in the Iowa Senate on March 28, 2017, by a 48 to 0 vote. The Iowa House of Representatives passed the bill 98-0 on March 12th.

Quad City Right to Life, Iowa State Police Association, Iowa Right to Life, Coalition for Family and Children’s Services in Iowa, Iowa Firefighters Association, Father Flanagan’s Boys Home, Iowa Catholic Conference, Iowa Association of Nurse Practitioners, Iowa Nurse Practitioners Society, and Mercy Health Network supported the bill with no groups registering opposition.

Reynolds also signed:

  • HF 2456: an Act relating to behavioral health, including provisions relating to involuntary commitments and hospitalizations, the disclosure of mental health information to law enforcement professionals and mental health and disability services.
  • SF 2113: an Act requiring school employee training and protocols relating to suicide prevention and the identification of adverse childhood experiences and strategies to mitigate toxic stress response.
  • SF 2289: an Act relating to the joint exercise of government powers by federally recognized Indian tribes. This bill passed the Iowa Senate on Feb. 20, 48-0 and the Iowa House on March 14, 98-0.
  • SF 2228: an Act providing for the licensure of genetic counselors, making penalties applicable, and including effective date and implementation provisions. This bill passed the Iowa Senate on Feb. 26, 48-1 and the Iowa House on March 12, 97-1.
  • HF 2305: an Act relating to insurance coverage for health care services delivered by telehealth, and including applicability provisions. This bill passed the Iowa House on Feb. 26, 98-0 and the Iowa Senate on March 20, 49-0.
  • HF 2285: an Act relating to supplemental reimbursement for eligible ground emergency medical transportation providers through the Medicaid program, and including effective date provisions. This bill passed the Iowa House on Feb. 20, 98-0 and the Iowa Senate on March 19, 47-0.

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