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State-sponsored 'baby boxes' being launched to encourage parents to give up their babies with anonymity

Baby boxes

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(NaturalNews) Newborns are abandoned more often in the USA than many realize, despite the fact that Safe Haven laws exist to protect mothers who wish to surrender their babies to areas such as hospitals or police stations so long as the baby hasn't been harmed.

One of the purposes of some Safe Haven laws is to encourage mothers to interact with hospital experts who can help ensure a safe birth or review options for the child such as adoption.

Sometimes this situation occurs from a young mother out of wedlock who has managed to hide her pregnancy. In other instances, a mother's financial difficulties may render the situation necessary.

Now, the state of Indiana's House has recently approved a "baby box" bill that would promote what Republican State Representative Casey Cox calls a natural extension of the Safe Haven laws.

If the state senate also approves it, Indiana would be the first state in the U.S. to allow and promote baby boxes, a tradition that has existed from medieval times in Europe and is even currently in place in parts of Asia.

How the baby box works

A baby box is a crude form of incubation with just enough equipment to protect a newborn from cold and heat. It has a silent alarm that goes off upon opening, alerting whatever hospital, fire station, or other facility it is hooked up to. This allows an attendant from such a location to retrieve the anonymously-deposited baby and care for it accordingly.

Monica Kelsey, a Woodburn, Indiana, firefighter and medic who is president of her newly-formed non-profit organization, Safe Haven Baby Boxes Inc., has a prototype that was developed in Ft. Wayne, Indiana. It is two feet long and resembles an old fashioned bread box from the outside.

Kelsey is the person who initially proposed the idea to Representative Cox, believing that her personal experience demonstrates the need for baby boxes. After all, she was given up for adoption shortly after her birth in an Indiana hospital because her mother was a rape victim.

If passed into state law, directories listing their locations at fire stations, police stations, and other appropriate facilities would be available.

In addition to an alarm that would notify a designated facility once the box is opened, the proposed Indiana version would have weight-detecting sensors to indicate that a baby has been placed inside.

Kelsey thinks this would be an adjunct to the current Safe Haven laws, and not a diversion. The estimated cost per baby box in Indiana is around $700, which would be supported by private contributions.

Throughout the United States, it's estimated that Safe Haven laws have resulted in more than 2,800 safe surrenders since 1999. But more than 1,400 other children have been found illegally abandoned, nearly two-thirds of them dead. Therefore, not everyone agrees with Kelsey and the Indiana State House of Representatives.

The baby box controversy

Ironically, the most vocal opponent to baby boxes is the person who provided the aforementioned abandoned baby statistics, Dawn Geras, president of Chicago's Save the Abandoned Babies Foundation.

Her appraisal of the cost per unit at $5,000 is considerably higher than Kelsey's $700 estimate, however, the higher number may be an effort to discourage Indiana's proceeding with the project. Still, Geras does cite other rational situations to bolster her opposition.

She points out that avoiding a hospital would create a more dangerous situation for the unwanted newborn who may need immediate care. Also, the mother wouldn't know her options regarding financial assistance or possibly adoption since the baby box removes person-to-person contact.

"If you use a baby box, you have stripped away that option," Geras said. "There's a lot of things that need to be done to improve safe haven laws throughout the country, but that's not one of them."

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