‘Safe Haven Baby Boxes’ could soon be in Alabama
MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - Families in crisis could soon have a new option when it comes to surrendering a newborn baby. A bill that would introduce Safe Haven Baby Boxes to Alabama is heading to the senate floor.
Under Alabama’s current Safe Haven Law, a mother in crisis can only surrender her baby at a hospital up to 72 hours after birth. Sponsored by Rep. Donna Givens, R-Loxley, and co-sponsored by 34 other representatives, House Bill 473 would give mothers up to 45 days to surrender the infant at a hospital or fire station.
The bill would allow for “baby boxes” to be installed into the walls of fire stations or first responder centers across Alabama. Mothers in crisis would be able to surrender their baby safely and anonymously.
“So these boxes are not in place yet in the state of Alabama, this legislation would allow us to then purchase the boxes and have those installed,” said Lee Marshall, Kids to Love Founder. “We’ve asked that those be put in fire stations that are manned 24 hours a day across the state.”
The climate-controlled box locks after a mother places the baby inside. A silent alarm then notifies first responders who can only open the box internally.
“It’s also hardwired to 911,” Marshall said. “The average time that a baby spends in this box is a minute and 40 seconds.”
The bill will also require law enforcement agencies to investigate whether the surrendered child has been reported missing.
Advocates say these boxes keep babies out of ditches, and dumpsters. Also, with Roe v. Wade overturned, it gives moms another safe alternative.
“You look at women now not having the choice to have an abortion, we want to give them another choice if they choose to carry that baby full term to be able to place that baby in a box, if they still choose not to parent,” Marshall said.
10 boxes are currently planned for fire stations near college campuses around Alabama. The first 10 areas to get a baby box are Mobile, Birmingham, Auburn, Huntsville, Tuscaloosa, the Shoals area, Dothan, Baldwin County, Gadsden/Anniston area and Montgomery.
Lee Marshall with Kids to Love, a foster care nonprofit, says an anonymous donor has already funded the first 10 boxes.
The bill passed through a senate committee Thursday and now heads to the senate floor for a vote.
Since 2017, 141 Safe Haven boxes have been installed in 10 states. There have been over 140 surrenders.
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