By State Sen. Travis Holdman
The idea of abandoning a newborn baby is unimaginable, but the unfortunate reality is that some parents believe it is their only option.
First passed in 2000, the Indiana Safe Haven Law enables a person to give up an infant anonymously without fear of arrest or prosecution. In 2017, Indiana expanded the Safe Haven Law to allow for baby boxes at limited locations including hospitals. Then in 2018, Indiana allowed fire stations with 24-7 emergency medical service (EMS) staffing to house baby boxes.
Safe Haven Baby Boxes are incubators in which an infant can be safely surrendered. Emergency medical service providers are immediately alerted and the baby is examined and, if needed, given medical treatment.
This year, to take the law a step further, I'm sponsoring House Bill 1230. HB 1230 would expand the existing Safe Haven law to allow EMS stations to implement Safe Haven Baby Boxes, expand accessibility for parents by allowing them to call 911 and anonymously surrender their baby less than 30 days old to EMS, and allow a patient to anonymously surrender a baby at the hospital or medical facility after the baby is delivered.
There are currently 53 Safe Haven Baby Boxes in Indiana, where 12 babies have been surrendered. Our experience shows it is safe to expand this program, which would give desperate parents another option to choose life for their newborn child. Offering more ways to safely surrender babies will ultimately save them from abandonment and neglect. Three states have followed Indiana in adopting the use of baby boxes — Ohio, Arkansas and Florida.
HB 1230 comes one year after I authored Senate Concurrent Resolution 21, which encourages the continued education and use of Safe Haven Baby Boxes.
Hoosier parents who need to talk to a counselor or who need help finding a baby box location can call the 24-7 Safe Haven Hotline at 1-866-99BABY1.
If you have any questions or concerns on this or other topics, feel free to contact me at Senator.Holdman@iga.in.gov or 317-232-9453.
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