Safe Haven Baby Boxes will now be allowed to be placed in Maine, thanks to legislation that amends the state’s safe haven law to include the boxes on the list of locations where a parent can safely surrender a child after birth. The law is set to go into effect in October 2021.
The bill was introduced by Representative Patrick Corey, who said that he wanted to ensure that there was an additional option for a parent to surrender a child. “We know that this is not the absolute best option for someone who is giving up a baby, this is one final backstop before someone puts a baby in a box and puts it in front of an emergency room door,” Corey said, according to WGME. “Worse, possibly leaving it in a park, hoping that some passerby will look in the box and realize there’s a baby is in there. Things like that happen.”
Each state has a safe haven law, which allows a parent to surrender a baby to an appropriate authority without penalty. In Maine, parents have 31 days to make the surrender to a law enforcement officer, staff at a medical emergency room, a medical services provider, or a hospital staff member at a hospital. Once baby boxes are installed in the state, these will be another option for parents who want to anonymously surrender their children.
Safe Haven Baby Box is an organization that installs climate-controlled boxes in the exterior wall of a hospital or firehouse. When a newborn is placed inside, the box automatically locks from the outside, and an alarm sounds alerting emergency personnel to the presence of a child. Within moments, the baby is rescued and given attention. The boxes give parents in crisis a safe, anonymous way to surrender their child. To date, 12 babies have been rescued by the boxes since the organization installed the first ones in 2016.
Safe Haven Baby Boxes are currently located in Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio, Arkansas, Florida, and Arizona.
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