Death of infant in Neptune brings NJ Save Haven law to focus

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An 18-year-old Neptune High School student is facing murder charges after she allegedly killed her newborn baby.

Police say that Jada McClain hid her pregnancy. They say that she did not seek an abortion because she did not think that she was allowed to have one without parental consent because she was underage at the time.

New Jersey does not require parental consent to have an abortion. But New Jersey also has “safe haven” laws that allow infants to be legally and anonymously left at hospital emergency rooms, police stations and other designated sites if mothers are not able to care for their new child.

The New Jersey Department of Children and Families says that at least 71 babies have been left at safe haven locations since the law went into effect nearly 20 years ago.

RELATED: Prosecutors: Teens charged following death of newborn baby 

State Sen. Anthony Bucco sponsored the law. He says that he fears that this latest incident means that the law is not widely known among New Jersey’s teens.

“Every child should have the opportunity to live a full life and young parents who selflessly surrender a baby should have the opportunity to grow up, too,” Bucco said in a statement.

The statement continued, “That's why safe havens are so important. I will continue to fight for legislation, such as my pending bill to require school districts to give students information about the safe haven law, so these kinds of tragedies don't happen again."

It was unclear if McClain was aware of the safe haven law, but News 12 New Jersey found that there were nearly a dozen designated locations near Neptune High School.

A spokesperson for the state Department of Children and Families says that the department works with the state Department of Education to distribute information about safe havens to school districts throughout the state. A state statute also requires that the information is made available to students.

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