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Legislators Seek to Expand "Baby Box" Authorization

No hospitals have made use of 2017 law; proposal would extend it to fire stations

(INDIANAPOLIS) -"Baby boxes" for abandoned babies have been used just once since legislators authorized them last year, but legislators will debate whether to expand them.

The boxes are heated and have an alarm to let hospital staffers know a baby has been placed inside. Last year's law shielded mothers from prosecution if they leave a baby in the specially-made box at a hospital. But no hospital has installed one -- the only time they've been used was at a Michigan City fire station which had a box before the law.

Markle Senator Travis Holdman's new bill would authorize all fire stations to install the boxes. He says some fire departments have already expressed interest. He predicts they'll be more receptive than hospitals, which he says are already overwhelmed in emergency rooms and have more complicated bureaucracies to deal with.

The nonprofit Safe Haven Baby Boxes says three hospitals plan to install boxes this spring, but won't say which ones.

The law is an extension of Indiana's "safe haven" law, aimed at ensuring unwanted babies aren't simply abandoned because their mothers fear criminal charges. Until last year's law authorizing the boxes, state law required a baby to be given directly to someone at a hospital or fire station for the legal protections to apply.

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