Houchin: Baby boxes a safe option to save lives

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State Sen. Erin Houchin, right, co-authored the bill that allows parents to safely surrender their newborn anonymously.

From Local Sources

State Sen. Erin Houchin, R-Salem, attended the unveiling of a new Safe Haven newborn safety incubator at Decatur Township Fire Department No. 74 Monday in southwest Indianapolis.

Houchin, whose district covers eastern Dubois County, co-authored Senate Enrolled Act 340 during the 2018 legislative session, which expanded Indiana’s Safe Haven Law by allowing fire stations that are staffed 24/7 to have newborn safety incubators.

These incubators, also called “baby boxes,” provide a last-resort opportunity for parents to safely surrender their newborn if they aren’t able to care for the infant.

The expanded law went into effect July 1.

“Unfortunately, parents sometimes find themselves in a position where they feel they cannot care for their child,” Houchin said. “It will always be ideal for the baby to be placed in the arms of another adult, but when that isn’t possible, these incubators provide a safe option. These incubators have saved lives, and the addition of this one is a blessing to the surrounding community.”

There are two other safety incubators in Indiana — one with the Coolspring Township Volunteer Fire Department in LaPorte County and one with the Woodburn Fire Department in Allen County. Two babies were surrendered in the last eight months to the LaPorte County location. One infant was surrendered July 1 at the Decatur Township Fire Department before the incubator that was unveiled Monday was operational.

Newborn safety incubators are FDA-approved, and parents are legally allowed to surrender their infants in one anonymously if the infant is less than 30 days old.

The boxes are padded and big enough for a newborn to lay inside comfortably. Boxes are equipped with a heating and cooling feature and a silent alarm that alerts emergency personnel within 30 seconds that a newborn has been placed in the box.

Firefighters then transport the infant to a hospital for a checkup. If the infant shows no sign of intentional abuse, there will be no attempt made to contact the parents. The baby will then be placed in foster care and available for adoption.

Visit www.safehavenbabyboxes.com to learn more.

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