‘Baby box’ bill sent to the governor’s desk

By Lucas Lloyd

INDIANAPOLIS – Legislation designed to protect distressed mothers who want to anonymously drop off their newborns is taking the final steps toward becoming law in Indiana.

Under the Safe Haven law, a mother is allowed to give up her baby at a police station, fire station or a hospital emergency room within 30 days of birth, no questions asked.  

Senate Bill 246 would allow those mothers to leave the baby in an electronically monitored box designed to shelter the child until help can arrive.

“It would give immunity to a young mother who wishes place their infant to give the child up in a newborn safety device in a hospital,” said Sen. Travis Holdman, R-Markle, who authored the bill.

As soon as a mother opens the so-called “baby box,” the device immediately sends a 911 call and then sends another 911 call when the newborn is placed inside the box.

Additionally, the mother can push a button located inside the box that will send a third 911 call. Once the door closes, the box locks and cannot be opened by anyone that is not firefighter, police officer or a member of the medical field. The infant then will be put into a foster or pre-adoptive home.

Sen. James Merritt, R-Indianapolis, authored the Safe Haven law and he was one of three senators who voted no on Senate Bill 246.

“I believe that the newborn should have a face-to-face by the mother given to the fire station, hospital or given to someone who is a first responder,” said Merritt.

The Senate voted 47-3 to send the bill to the governor’s desk. Gov. Eric Holcomb can sign, veto or let the bill become law without his signature.

Lucas Lloyd is a reporter for TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students.

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