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New Bill Would Allow For Baby Boxes

Dylan Parker
Wikimedia Commons

Anonymity could help make sure abandoned babies are left in safe places. That’s the idea behind new legislation in Lansing.

Michigan’s Safe Delivery law allows parents to surrender a child no more than 72 hours old to an employee at a hospital, fire or police station, or by calling 911. But that requires some level of face-to-face interaction. A bill in the state legislature would allow parents to surrender babies to a so-called “newborn safety device.” Those are boxes installed at hospitals and other surrender locations. They’re electronically monitored and temperature controlled.

Last summer, a man came out of a hospital in Grand Rapids to find a newborn baby left in his car. 

“So this mother, knew that this location was a safe haven location, she went all the way there, but she couldn’t walk inside and hand her child to a person,” said Safe Haven Baby Boxes founder Monica Kelsey. She said some people can’t handle the face-to-face interaction of surrendering their child.

Safe Haven Baby Boxes is a non-profit that partners with locations to install boxes and provide outreach.

“We hope we never have to use them,” said Kelsey. “We hope a mother doesn’t pick these. But we do know that if they’re out of options, we have to have a final option for these moms that feel they have no other choice.”

Currently Indiana has two baby boxes. Ohio is scheduled to install its first box next month.

Before becoming the newest Capitol reporter for Michigan Public Radio Network, Cheyna Roth was an attorney. She spent her days fighting it out in court as an assistant prosecuting attorney for Ionia County.
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