ANNAPOLIS – A bill to give immunity to desperate mothers who abandon their newborns died when lawmakers couldn’t agree on how to treat firefighter protests before the Maryland General Assembly adjourned for the year Monday.
Firefighters opposed the measure, saying they supported the bill but didn’t want their stations to be a designated “safe havens,” where babies can be turned over. Many firehouses, especially in rural areas, are unstaffed, they said.
“I just want to make sure people know we’re not always there,” Delegate James Malone Jr., D-Baltimore County, a lieutenant in the Baltimore County Fire Department, has said.
And Sen. Leo Green, D-Prince George’s, agreed. In his Senate bill, only hospitals are designated safe havens. But Delegate Sharon Grosfeld, D- Montgomery, included police stations, fire stations, social service agencies, and hospitals in the House bill.
Without the combined effort, Grosfeld said the measure would be useless.
Grosfeld said she can’t understand why firefighters “of all people” would fight against this life-saving bill.
“It’s just incredibly selfish and irresponsible for firefighters to take the position they did on safe haven. They don’t want to have to . . . take the baby to the hospital,” she said.
Although the measure was touted as a baby issue pro-abortion and anti- abortion activists finally agreed on, the sponsors proved to be the ones who couldn’t come to an agreement.
“I’m sorry it happened,” Green said. “Time ran out in our ability to negotiate.”
But both sponsors plan to introduce the measure next year and hopefully, Green said, “we’ll work out the differences.”