Thankfully, in 2000, the General Assembly passed the Safe Haven Law allowing parents who feel they can’t care for their baby to give up a newborn anonymously without being prosecuted. This law was expanded in 2017 to apply to baby boxes, and again in 2018 to include baby boxes at fire stations.
Safe Haven Baby Boxes are incubators in which an infant can be safely surrendered. Emergency medical service (EMS) providers are immediately alerted and the baby is examined and, if needed, given medical treatment. The Indiana Department of Child Services then takes the baby into custody and places the child with a caregiver.
This session, I am supporting legislation to further expand Indiana’s Safe Haven Law.
House Bill 1230 would allow baby boxes to be placed at any EMS station that has 24-7 staffing and meets certain other requirements. Under this bill, parents could also legally relinquish custody of their newborn to medical staff after delivery at a health care facility. Additionally, HB 1230 would allow a parent to legally relinquish custody of their newborn by calling 911 and having EMS staff come take the child.
In a perfect world, the Safe Haven Law would not be needed. But in the real world, I believe our laws must create safe alternatives to abandonment or abortion for parents who cannot care for their child.
There are currently 53 Safe Haven Baby Box locations in Indiana, the most of any state in the country, and a total of 12 babies have been safely surrendered through them.