State Sens. Travis Holdman (R-Markle) and Erin Houchin (R-Salem) announced the introduction of Senate Bill 123 on Wednesday, which would expand the availability of newborn safety incubators, commonly referred to as “baby boxes.”
Keeping with Indiana’s Safe Haven law, Houchin joined Holdman in co-authoring SB 123 to expand the use of baby boxes in Indiana by allowing fire departments staffed on a 24 hour basis to install baby boxes.
Baby boxes are safety incubators where mothers can anonymously surrender their newborn babies.
Currently, there are only two in Indiana. Expanding this program is voluntary, allowing each fire department to make the decision whether or not to install these boxes.
The Indiana Safe Haven Law enables a person to give up an unwanted infant anonymously without fear of arrest or prosecution if surrendered at a hospital or a site staffed by an emergency medical services provider.
Under the Safe Haven law, the Indiana Department of Child Services takes abandoned infants into custody through Child Protective Services and places the child with a caregiver.
“In circumstances where parents feel they cannot care for their newborn, while we would prefer for the child to be placed into the arms of another individual, these baby boxes can protect infants from in many cases what could otherwise be fatal circumstances,” said Houchin.
“By ensuring these mothers have a safe, anonymous way to surrender their child, this option will reinforce our commitment to the well-being of children throughout Indiana.”
“Baby boxes allow women to give their baby a chance for a better life,” added Holdman. “Encouraging fire departments that are staffed 24/7 to have baby boxes will positively benefit more infants’ lives by increasing the number of locations baby boxes can be installed.”
On Tuesday, Nov. 7, a baby was placed in one of the Safe Haven baby boxes in Michigan City, and was recently adopted.