A Catholic organization is funding baby drop-off boxes across the Indiana. Newborn babies that are unwanted by their mothers will be left in these boxes so somebody else can take care of them.
The ‘Safe Haven Baby Boxes’ are climate controlled, padded and lock from the outside as soon as a baby is put in.
They have a sensor which alerts the authorities as soon as the door is opened. Costing between $1,500 and $2,000, (£1,000 – £1,400) each, the state’s Knights of Columbus – world’s largest Catholic fraternal organisation – is funding the first of 100 planned baby box installations, NY Daily News reported today.
The first incubator was installed on April 19 on the side of a fire station in the town of Woodburn, near the Ohio border. The second was fitted in the Cool Spring Fire Department in Michigan City last Thursday.
Each US state has its own safe haven laws which allow unwanted newborns to be given up safely. In Indiana, an adult can drop a child younger than 30 days old to a fire station, hospital or police station with no questions asked.
Safe Haven Baby Boxes founder Monica Kelsey, a volunteer firefighter and medic, said the boxes were part of a broader approach that includes increasing awareness about the laws and other options available to new mothers in crisis.
Kelsey, who was abandoned in a hospital shortly after her birth because her mother’s pregnancy was the result of rape, suggested the boxes to Indiana State Representative Casey Cox.
Mr Cox said last year he was unaware of any other states that have considered the issue at the level Indiana has, and has publicly pushed for their installation.
He submitted a proposal for the new boxes which drew on a centuries-old concept to help ‘those children that are left in the woods, those children that are abandoned in dangerous places.’
Advocates argue, however, that despite save haven laws, many children do not make it into safe hands and that new parents need a better way to surrender their newborn.
But critics say the boxes make it easier to abandon a child without exploring other options and contend they do nothing to address poverty and other societal issues that contribute to unwanted babies.
Some baby hatches in China have been so overwhelmed by abandonments in recent years that local officials have restricted their use or closed them.
The United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child has called for a ban on the boxes in Europe and has urged countries to provide family planning and other support to address the root causes of abandonments.