Kentucky lawmakers seek to legalize baby boxes for surrendering newborns


A new bill in Kentucky aims to save the lives of infants who are abandoned by their desperate parents. House Bill 155 was passed in the state House of Representatives last week and is now under consideration in the state Senate.

Sponsored by Representative Nancy Tate of Brandenburg, the bill would allow the anonymous surrender of a newborn at a participating staffed police station, staffed fire station, or a staffed hospital. Parents would surrender the child in “newborn safety devices,” often referred to as baby boxes. These are temperature-controlled, ventilated spaces that are monitored electronically. As soon as the outer door opens, 911 is notified, and when the door is closed, a sensor notifies emergency services. A button on the outside of the box also allows the person to call 911 again if they so choose.

Each state has some version of a safe haven law, which allows parents to safely and legally surrender their infants, although some states, like California, have stricter laws than others. With these laws, parents who feel overwhelmed and incapable of caring for their children can take action without having to face charges. Baby boxes, in particular, are also growing quickly across the nation in large part due to firefighter Monica Kelsey, who was abandoned as an infant.

READ: Kentucky House advances bill to affirm there is no state constitutional right to abortion

Kelsey founded Safe Haven Baby Boxes after seeing one in Cape Town, South Africa, and decided to bring the idea to the United States. In an interview with Live Action News, Kelsey said these laws are a “win-win situation” for everyone involved. “The mother walks away with zero chance of prosecution, while the baby has the opportunity to be adopted into a loving home, and a family opens their hearts and home to the child for whom they’ve prayed,” Kelsey added:

As a firefighter/medic for the state of Indiana and in light of the fact that I was abandoned as a child, I feel a personal need to educate our youth and our communities about this life-saving law. In a perfect world, we would prefer that the mother come forward, visit a local crisis pregnancy center, and receive the assistance and counseling she needs. However, this may not be possible in all situations.

With these cases, we want young women to know that the Safe Haven Law is there as an option that respects the lives of both mother and child.

Safe Haven laws and baby boxes are vital tools to help mothers who feel they have no way out to take action without feeling like their only option is to leave their children to die. Surrendering a child is likely one of the most difficult and tragic choices a parent will ever have to make, but through these programs, it’s a way for scared, desperate parents to choose life — both for themselves and for their children.

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