INDIANAPOLIS – The Indiana Senate voted 47-0 Tuesday to allow fire stations to add so-called baby boxes to aid in newborn abandonment.
“This builds off Safe Haven legislation passed a number of years ago and last year,” Sen. Travis Holdman, R-Markle said. Senate Bill 123 now moves to the House.
The measure allows fire stations that are staffed around the clock to have baby boxes, also called newborn incubators. It gives immunity to the woman dropping off a newborn less than 30 days old, as well as to the fire station.
Last year, lawmakers allowed hospitals to add baby boxes though none have yet. Two existing fire station boxes were grandfathered in Woodburn and Michigan City. So far, one child has been dropped off using the box and has now been adopted.
The heated, cooled and padded boxes are attached to buildings and have an alarm that goes off when a baby is placed in one. They also must be inspected monthly.
Holdman said they are an extension of Indiana's Safe Haven law, which allows mothers to give up their newborns without legal ramifications to certain emergency personnel.
But with a baby box a woman doesn't have to face a hospital worker or firefighter and give her name. This anonymity is a key incentive.
Sen. Jean Breaux, D-Indianapolis, said she understands wanting to save children and make sure they have safe, loving homes.
“But what are we as a state doing to prevent unplanned pregnancies?” she asked, noting her attempts to focus on sex education or give women more tools have been rebuffed.