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article imageIndiana's 'baby boxes' could save the lives of unwanted infants

By Karen Graham     Feb 28, 2015 in Health
Chicago - The Indiana House passed a bill this week that would set up "emergency monitored" incubator-like boxes at preselected locations so that mothers could have a way to safely and confidentially give up their unwanted babies.
In today's culture, child abandonment is considered a serious crime in many places. Indiana's legislation was inspired by past incidences where babies have been found in trash cans, wooded areas or on the floor of a laundromat, to name a few. The sad statistics indicate that often, newborns are not found in time and die.
Republican state representative Casey Cox, whose "baby box" bill passed the Indiana House unanimously this week, says it will still have to pass the state Senate. He defines the legislation as a natural progression from the "safe haven laws" now in all 50 states, giving parents a legal way to surrender their newborns at police stations or hospitals and other facilities without facing prosecution, as long as the child is not harmed.
The baby box is a metal container, looking like an over-sized bread box, but it's actually a newborn incubator. If the legislation is passed by the state Senate, the boxes will soon be showing up at select hospitals, fire stations, churches and some nonprofits as a way for mothers to legally and anonymously give up their infants.
Dawn Geras, with the Chicago-based Save the Abandoned Babies Foundation, says there have been 2,800 safe surrenders in the U.S. since 1999. She also says more than 1,400 other children have been found illegally abandoned, with nearly two-thirds of those dying, reports the Chicago tribune.
The concept of baby boxes is not new. The idea has been around since medieval times, when convents had revolving doors, called "foundling wheels." Unwanted babies were placed inside and the door closed and revolved so someone on the other side of the wall could take the child out of the compartment. History also points out that many abandoned infants and children ended up becoming slaves to their new guardians.
In the United Kingdom, it is unlawful to abandon a child under the age of two years. But in some European countries, there are ways to legally abandon a newborn. In Germany, there are "Babyklappens" (translated: baby hatches), and in South Africa,"Baby Bins." In the Czech Republic, the baby hatch or baby box is used to hand over an unwanted infant.
There are critics of the proposed baby box. They claim the boxes make it easier to abandon a child before looking into other options or exploring the socio-economic reasons for the abandonment. Poverty and unwanted teen pregnancies have always been at the top of the list of reasons for wanting to give up a newborn, There are, of course, other reasons, such as drug addiction and mental disorders.
The United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child has asked that the baby boxes be banned in Europe, calling instead for greater governmental action in family planning support, pre- and post-natal support as well as other support in combating the base causes of child abandonment.
According to RTV6, the cost to the state for one Safe Haven Baby Box is $700, with the money coming from private sources. The bill also stipulates the infant cannot be over 31 days old. The state health department would be put in charge of manning the boxes.
More about Indiana, Baby box, unwanted infants, Anonymous, legal abandonment
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