BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    

                                                                  AB 1048
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          Date of Hearing:   May 6, 2009

                                Kevin De Leon, Chair

                   AB 1048 (Torrico) - As Amended:  March 31, 2009 

          Policy Committee:                              Public  
          SafetyVote:  5-0
                         Judiciary                               8-2
          Urgency:     No                   State Mandated Local Program:  
          Yes    Reimbursable: Yes           


          This bill extends, from 72 hours to 30 days, the age at which a  
          child may be left at a designated safe surrender site. This bill  

          1)Adds a local fire agency, upon the approval of the appropriate  
            local governing body of the agency, to the designated safe  
            surrender sites. (Current sites are either designated by  
            boards of supervisors, or are locations within a hospital, as  
            designated by the hospital.

          2)Requires, by July 1, 2010, the Department of Social Services  
            (DSS) to convene a workgroup, as specified, to disseminate  
            updated instructions to counties regarding the provisions of  
            the safe surrender program.  

          3)Requires, by January 1, 2013, DSS to begin reporting to the  
            Legislature, on an annual basis, specified information and  
            statistics related to the safe surrender program, 

           FISCAL EFFECT  

          1)Minor, potentially state-reimbursable costs for local entities  
            and governments to consult on the designation of  
            safe-surrender sites. 

          2)The bill specifies that the required DSS workgroup activities,  
            which would likely cost at least $150,000 for staff time and  
            development and dissemination of specified materials, must be  
            funded by available moneys from the State Children's Trust  


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            Fund, the CA Children and Families Commission, or private  

            The State Children's Trust Fund is currently spending about $3  
            million more than the $1.1 million it brings in via fees and  

            The CA Children and Families Trust Fund (Proposition 10/"First  
            5"), is currently designated for a redirection of $608 million  
            to the GF in 2009-10 by Proposition 1D, pending the May 19  
            statewide election. The LAO estimates the Children and  
            Families Trust Fund will bring in about $500 million in  
          3)Minor annual GF costs, likely in the range of $25,000, for DSS  
            reporting costs regarding the safe surrender program.


          1)Rationale.  The author contends the safe-surrender law should  
            be expanded and advertised, citing 22 other states that  
            provide more than a month to surrender an infant. 
            "A survey of these states elicited two primary rationales for  
            the extended period. The first was a general desire to provide  
            sufficient time for a parent to take a responsible course of  
            action. The second was the correlation between the onset of  
            postpartum depression and infanticide or abuse.  In our  
            neighboring state, Nevada, (which allows 30 days)  
            Assemblywoman Barbara Cegavske responded that they were trying  
            to leave enough time and space in between when a mother  
            abandoned her baby and went through any postpartum depression  
            episodes that might be experienced.

          "According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental  
            Disorders, Fourth Edition, postpartum depression is defined as  
            episodes of depression beginning within 4 weeks of giving  
            birth.  Cases in which postpartum depression poses the  
            greatest danger to the child is when the mother is suffering  
            from postpartum psychotic depression.  Postpartum psychotic  
            depression can occur within 3 weeks of birth and often goes  
            unnoticed as the women that suffer from postpartum depression  
            may appear well."

          According to a June 2008 DSS report on the safe surrender law,  


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            251 newborns have been safely surrendered in California since  
            the advent of the safe surrender law in 2001, while an  
            additional 149 infants were found alive during this period  
            following illegal abandonment. 

            The author disputes these figures. "The 175 abandoned babies  
            DSS reported is, first, misleading and second, still an  
            astoundingly significant number of lives that could have been  
            saved by changes to the current law. In 2008, the State  
            Auditor found that 404 babies had actually been abandoned  
            since the inception of the law and the figure DSS had reported  
            was based on abandoned babies  younger  than seven days."

           2)The need for DSS to prepare and disseminate updated  
            information  . The author notes the existing law does not  
            require any governmental entity to administer and enforce the  
            law, much less establish awareness.  There are varying levels  
            of understanding from county to county. This lack of clear  
            comprehension of the law poses significant problems for those  
            seeking information and those providing information. 

            "In California, there are over 6 million limited English  
            proficient residents and currently, informational pamphlets  
            have only been available in English and Spanish.  Without  
            access to information for the nearest safe surrender sites and  
            confusion among county experts, it appears unreasonable to  
            expect a desperate mother to safely surrender within the 72  
            hour window."
          3)Current law,  established by SB 1368 (Brulte, 2000), provides  
            for the surrender of a newborn by a parent or other  
            responsible person to a safe-surrender site. SB 1368 was  
            intended to provide mothers of unwanted newborns a safe  
            alternative to abandoning infants in places where babies would  
            likely die. SB 1368 designated safe places (such as an  
            emergency room of a hospital) where a person can surrender a  
            baby, with no questions asked, and retrieve the baby within a  
            14-day period, as specified, with immunity from criminal  
            penalties under child abandonment laws. 

           4)Other States  . According to an April 2009 policy brief by the  
            Guttmacher Instititute - a nonprofit organization focused on  
            sexual and reproductive health research, policy analysis and  
            public education - all 50 states have legalized relinquishment  
            (32 of which authorize anonymous relinquishment and legal  


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            immunity, while others request medical information and/or  
            investigate missing child status): 16 for 72 hours; 11 for  
            five days to three weeks; 14 for 28 to 31 days: five for 45 to  
            90 days, and two (North Dakota and Missouri) for one year.      

           5)Opposition  , which includes the County Welfare Directors'  
            Association, the CA State Association of Counties, and L.A.  
            County, centers on the extension of 72 hours to 30 days, based  
            on the premise that the original 72-hour period was designed  
            to deal with the immediate emotional period in which most  
            infant homicides occur, rather than a protracted period during  
            which a child may be relinquished, but not anonymously.  

            The County Welfare Directors Association (CWDA) contends this  
            bill "is not supported by research on baby abandonment, would  
            run counter to the policy of anonymity for women who surrender  
            their babies, and would bypass more appropriate existing  
            methods for helping parents whose babies are older than a few  

            According to CWDA, the existing voluntary relinquishment  
            process enables parents to voluntarily place children who are  
            older than three days up for adoption. Voluntary  
            relinquishment offers safeguards to birth parents, the child  
            and the adoptive parents.  Moreover, voluntary placement rules  
            allow a parent to place a child in foster care for up to six  
            months.  These two paths, according to CWDA, offer short- and  
            long-term options for parents who are overwhelmed or are  
            suffering from post-partum depression.  These options, which  
            are easily accessed at the local level, would also allow for  
            the collection of important medical history information,  
            provide full disclosure and due process for both the mother  
            and father of the baby, and allow for potential future contact  
            between the baby and the birth family. 

           6)Related legislation.  

             a)   AB 2262 (Torrico, 2008) was similar to AB 1048 and was  
               vetoed. The governor stated, "I have vetoed similar  
               measures twice before and there is no new data or  
               information to support a change in my position.  
               California's Safe Surrender Law is carefully crafted to  
               provide an emergency alternative to a woman in crisis while  
               also reserving the fundamental rights of a child."


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             b)   AB 81 (Torrico, 2007) was similar to AB 1048 and was  
               vetoed. The governor stated, "The current 72-hour period  
               contained in law allows for a no-questions-asked safe  
               surrender of a newborn, and is supported by research and  
               statistics which indicate that most neonaticide occurs  
               within the first day. Experts have raised concerns that  
               instead of improving child safety, increasing the time that  
               a baby may be surrendered from 72 hours will put newborns  
               in greater risk by keeping them in an unsafe environment  
               without proper care and supervision." 

             c)   AB 1873 (Torrico, 2006) was similar to AB 1048 and was  
               vetoed with a similar message. 

             d)   SB 139 (Brulte), Chapter 150, Statutes 2003, provides a  
               child may be surrendered at any hospital or other  
               designated safe-surrender site. Previously, a designated  
               employee at a hospital emergency room or other location was  
               the only person permitted to accept a baby.

           Analysis Prepared by  :    Geoff Long / APPR. / (916) 319-2081