Expanding Indiana's Safe Haven Law

Expanding Indiana's Safe Haven Law

Friday, March 19, 2021

For most of us, the idea of abandoning a newborn baby is unimaginable, but the unfortunate reality is that some parents believe it is their only option.

To provide an outlet to parents who feel they have no other option but to turn over their baby, the General Assembly passed the Safe Haven Law in 2000. This legislation allows parents to give up a newborn anonymously without being prosecuted. This law was expanded in 2017 to apply to baby boxes, and again in 2018 to include baby boxes at fire stations.

Safe Haven Baby Boxes are incubators in which an infant can be safely surrendered. Emergency medical service (EMS) providers are immediately alerted and the baby is examined and, if needed, given medical treatment. The Indiana Department of Child Services then takes the baby into custody and places the child with a caregiver.

On March 16, the Senate unanimously passed House Bill 1230, which would further expand Indiana's Safe Haven Law.

HB 1230 would allow baby boxes to be placed at any EMS station that has 24-7 staffing and meets certain other requirements. Under this bill, parents could also legally relinquish custody of their newborn to medical staff after delivery at a health care facility. Additionally, HB 1230 would allow a parent to legally relinquish custody of their newborn by calling 911 and having EMS staff come take the child.

In a perfect world, the Safe Haven Law would not be needed. But in the real world, it is important we create safe alternatives to abandonment or abortion for parents who cannot care for their child.

There are currently 53 Safe Haven Baby Box locations in Indiana, the most of any state in the country, and a total of 12 babies have been safely surrendered through them. For more information on Safe Haven Baby Boxes, click here.

HB 1230 will now return to the House of Representatives for further consideration. To follow HB 1230 through the legislative process and view other bills being considered this legislative session, click here.