Gov. Pat Quinn signed legislation on Thursday which increases the facilities considered as "safe havens" for parents seeking to safely and legally give up their newborns.
House Bill 106 expands the places where parents can relinquish their infants to include college and university police stations and any district headquarters of the Illinois State Police.
"Every parent wants their child to be raised in a healthy, happy environment," said Gov. Quinn. "Expanding our safe haven laws to include universities and Illinois State Police facilities will help make sure that more parents are able to relinquish infants in a safe and legal way."
Under the existing Illinois Safe Haven law, parents are allowed to relinquish custody of an unharmed newborn up to 30 days old to personnel at a hospital, emergency medical care facility, police or fire station.
Parents can give up their child anonymously and without the threat of prosecution for abandonment.
The new bill, sponsored by Rep Naomi Jakobsson (D-Champaign) and Sen. Donne Trotter (D-Chicago), expands the definition of "police station" to include any Illinois State Police district headquarters and any campus police department located on a public or private college or university campus when employees are present.
"Unfortunately, there are times when distraught new parents believe that they have no choice but to abandon their child," said Rep. Jakobsson. "The ultimate objective is to make certain that these babies are not abandoned in an unsafe way or put into dangerous situations."
Since Illinois adopted the Abandoned Newborn Infant Protection Act in 2001, 64 newborns have been relinquished to safe haven facilities. Statistics show that more than 44 percent of unplanned pregnancies occur in mothers ages 18-24, prompting the expansion of the safe haven laws to university settings.
Illinois is the first state in the nation to include university police in its safe haven laws. The law is effective immediately.