In 1999, Texas became the first U.S. state to tackle the problem of abandoned babies, some of whom were being left in trash bins or suffering other ghastly fates after being born outside the hospital system. The state enacted what was known as a Baby Moses Law, a safe-haven law designed to save lives by encouraging parents to surrender infants safely. In 2016, activist Monica Kelsey took that idea a step further when she convinced Indiana to install Safe Haven Baby Boxes at fire stations. A mother who wants to surrender her baby safely and anonymously can now simply place the infant in a baby hatch, which typically resembles a bank’s night deposit box.
A safe place for abandoned infants:
- Here’s how the system typically works: When a person opens the baby box, a call is immediately placed to 911, and fire and medical personnel are dispatched. When closed, the box locks automatically.
- The box is padded and climate controlled to keep the baby warm while still allowing air circulation. The baby gets immediate attention, and typically becomes a candidate for adoption later on.
- Supporters say safe-haven laws provide an alternative to abortion, infanticide or unsafe child abandonment. Detractors argue that the laws, now in force nationwide, favor mothers and sometimes violate a father’s rights.