‘Safe Haven Baby Boxes’ have been installed in an Indiana town in which mothers have the option to drop-off their unwanted infants anonymously. The boxes are climate controlled, padded and feature a security system that alerts all nearby emergency service workers when a baby is placed in one.
The Woodburn Volunteer Fire Department, less than 20 miles from the Ohio border, received the first baby box in the state recently, while a second one was installed in Michigan City on Thursday, the Atlanta Constitution reports. Woodburn’s baby box is directly attached to the inside of the firehouse.
Costing between $1,500 and $2,000, the state’s Knights of Columbus organization is paying the bill for the first of 100 planned with new installations. Every state, as well as Washington D.C. have safe haven laws in place that say infants can be given up by parents legally without fear of persecution.
Presumably, the babies placed in the “safe haven baby boxes” will be tended to much quicker than if new parents discard of them in a different manner. Some, like Indiana, also allow mothers to drop babies off at hospitals, as well as police and fire stations. But despite the laws, some argue that the anonymity of the boxes encourage new parents not to weigh their options.
“This is not criminal,” Monica Kelsey, a volunteer firefighter in Woodburn, said. “This is legal. We don’t want to push women away.”
Kelsey, who also volunteers at a crisis hotline, added that some new mothers want anonymity, citing a story in which she persuaded someone on the phone to drop their child off at a hospital after refusing to go to a police station and see other people, The Christian Post reported.
The Safe Haven Baby Boxes reveal that not all who have children are ready for motherhood, and all of the nation’s 50 states have laws that allow for newborns to be surrendered without penalty. While it seems like a good thing, critics still believe the program encourages abandonment, while others are concerned women who intend to use them will forego seeking safe birthing options.
“We did the blessing of the boxes and now we are testing them and they are working perfectly - response time is two minutes 15 seconds,” said Kelsey.
Kelsey and other pro-life, anti-birth control groups who believe in baby boxes fought for new legislation that passed in Indiana last year, over some opposition from health experts, permitting their installation under the umbrella of existing safe haven laws. But despite the new legislation, Indiana Democratic senator Jean Breaux says the safe haven baby boxes are extremely problematic, and speak to growing extremism in the state.
“It’s just another extension of this state’s fanatical view of anti-abortion, when Roe v Wade is the law of the land. They would rather have a baby born and abandoned than pursue some alternative to that,” Breaux stated. “The bottom line is that even with baby boxes I contend that you will still have babies put in trash cans and put out in the cold because the parent is in the midst of an overwhelming experience, full of fear and anxiety,” she said. “The likelihood of someone saying ‘let’s drive over and get a baby box,’ I just think it’s unrealistic. Instead let’s equip our young people with the tools they need to make the best choices and you will find that baby boxes will be unnecessary.”
USA Today said that as the Safe Haven Baby Boxes are installed, there are no official figures recording the number of newborns abandoned in the US every year in unsafe circumstances. Kelsey said her organization tries to track it based on news reports and crowd-sourced information and estimates that it adds up to between 73 and 100 babies, the majority of whom do not survive.