infant

By Paul Goyette from Chicago, USA (bird's eye) [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

When the 2016 legislative session begins next month, state lawmakers will consider expanding the Kentucky Safe Infants Act to include churches. 

The state law currently allows parents to drop off unwanted newborns, three days old or less, at police and fire departments, and hospital emergency rooms without being criminally charged. 

Kentucky's premature birth rate is slowly declining, but it still falls above the national average, according to a report released Thursday.

The report, called the March of Dimes Premature Birth Rate Report Card, gave Kentucky a "C" grade. 

The state's premature birth rate was 12.6 percent in 2013; in 2012 it was 12.7 percent.

The national rate in 2013 was 11.5 percent.

A 2001 law could have prevented the arrest of a Paducah teen and the death of her baby. The Safe Infants Act allows parents of newborns less than 72 hours old to drop the child off anonymously without consequences. Police departments, fire departments and hospitals are will all accept anonymous drop-offs. The law protects parents from legal repercussions as long as the child shows no signs of abuse. Parents have 30 days to change their minds before the child is put under permanent state custody.