By Tanner Nicholson
INDIANAPOLIS — One lawmaker is advocating for more “baby boxes” that would allow an individual to anonymously surrender a newborn.
Sen. Travis Holdman, R-Markle, introduced Senate Bill 123 Monday. The bill would expand the availability of newborn safety incubators, also known as baby boxes, across the state.
Only two departments currently have a baby box installed, including one in Indianapolis. Mothers are able to simply drop off the baby and press a button to notify the department that an infant is in the box.
The boxes are tested on a monthly basis to monitor security functions. Under SB 123, fire departments that operate a baby box would receive civil immunity for an act or omission related to the device if the device meets all specified requirements and the omission is not gross negligence.
The bill passed the Senate Civil Law Committee, 6-1. Sen. Greg Taylor, D-Indianapolis, voted no on the measure, citing the bill’s immunity language.
“You have to be careful when you give immunity to anybody for anything,” Taylor said. “The standard that we usually use is gross negligence and willful misconduct. If you do something that’s just heinous, put somebody’s life in danger, then you don’t get immunity. And the way I read the bill, they are immune even if it is just a mistake.”
The state’s current Safe Haven Law allows an individual to anonymously surrender an infant without risk of arrest or prosecution as long as the infant is surrendered to a hospital or an establishment with emergency services.
The proposed law would allow individuals to surrender them anonymously by placing the child in the box. The Indiana Department of Child Services then would take the abandoned infants into custody.
Tanner Nicholson is a reporter for TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students.