US state of Indiana introduces first 'baby drop-off box' for unwanted newborns
Founder of the Safe Haven Baby Boxes says: 'This is legal. We don’t want to push women away'
A “safe haven baby box” facility allowing parents to anonymously “drop-off” unwanted new born babies has been introduced in Indiana.
The box is accessed from the exterior of the Woodburn Volunteer Fire Department building by the parent and is padded with climate control inside.
Emergency staff are notified when a baby is placed in the box via a security system and can get to the infant within minutes.
Knights of Columbus, the world’s largest Catholic fraternal organisation, will pay for the first 100 baby boxes. Each box costs between $1,500 and $2,000.
Monica Kelsey, founder of the Safe Haven Baby Boxes and an advocate for baby boxes in Indiana for a number of years, said the scheme is benificial as some people want total anonymity and yet know the baby is safe.
“This is not criminal,” Ms Kelsey said. “This is legal. We don’t want to push women away.”
But critics of the baby boxes say it makes it easier to surrender child without considering other options, which can deprive parents of medical care if they need it.
A second box opened on Thursday in Michigan City.
State Representative, Casey Cox, has supported the concept of baby boxes in Indiana and has been working with lawmakers and Governor Mike Pence’s administration on safety protocols.
All 50 states and the District of Colombia have safe haven laws, which allow unharmed new-borns to be surrendered without fear of prosecution.
Indiana’s law allows parents to drop off new-borns younger than 30 days old at police stations, fire stations and hospitals.