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Safe Haven Baby Boxes could be coming to Alabama


A proposed Alabama law would attempt to keep newborn babies away from dangerous places House Bill (HB473) would introduce Safe Haven Baby Boxes to the state and currently awaits Governor Kay Ivey’s approval.

If enacted, the proposal would give parents an option to surrender their baby anonymously but safely. The purpose of the legislation is to save babies from the fate of being dropped off in things like dumpsters.

Photo of a Safe Haven Baby Box provided by the City of Westfield

When a baby is placed in Safe Haven Baby Boxes, an alarm goes off and calls 911. This also alerts firefighters or medical personnel who should get to the infant in about two minutes.

Monica Kelsey is the CEO and founder of Safe Haven Baby Boxes. She said the boxes give parents a new alternative, ensuring the baby’s safety.

“In a perfect world, [the boxes] wouldn't be needed. But this isn't a perfect world, as everyone knows,” she said. “These boxes are needed to keep babies out of dumpsters and trash cans and alongside highways and alleyways. To give these parents the anonymity peace, to allow them to still place their child in a safe place – but doing it anonymously. The one thing we want, to make sure that these children are safe. And this is one of the ways they can do that.”

Regulations on the use of Safe Haven Baby Boxes vary from state to state. Previously, Alabama law allowed surrendering an infant to an emergency medical provider if they were 72 hours or younger. Now, HB473 allows parents to surrender an infant, up to 45 days old, in the baby box. The law also requires law enforcement agencies to investigate if the child has been reported missing.

Kelsey said one of the beauties of the Safe Haven Baby Boxes is that the anonymity of the parent is protected, and the baby will be in safe hands in a short amount of time.

“The boxes are not medical devices. This is just a box that's going to house an infant until first responders arrive,” Kelsey explained. “A baby in a baby box for two minutes is a heck of a lot better than a baby in a dumpster for six hours. That's where these lives are being saved, as these boxes are calling 911 when an infant is placed inside. These boxes are not medical, they are a safety device.”

The goal of the Safe Haven Baby Boxes is to keep babies out threatening places, such as dumpsters and trash cans. Kelsey said that the goal does not stop because abortion has become illegal or legal. She said it’s about keeping infants safe and is something they have been doing for the last ten years.

Although HB473 gives mothers more time to decide surrendering their baby, Kelsey advised them to consider other options available.

“Make sure you're looking at all of your options. There are many options to choose from, when you're in a moment of crisis, and we want to make sure that you're choosing what's best for you,” Kelsey said. “Contact us on our hotline, we can walk you through the options that you have, not just the baby box option. We can help you with an adoption plan or a parenting plan. There are options out there, make sure you look at all of your options before you make a choice that's going to impact you for the rest of your life.”

The Safe Haven Baby Boxes would initially be installed in Auburn, Baldwin County, Birmingham, Dothan, Gadsden, Huntsville, Mobile, Montgomery, the Shoals area and Tuscaloosa. The boxes are generally placed at hospitals and fire stations.

To contact Safe Baby Haven Boxes, call 186699 BABY 1.

Valentina Mora is a student intern at the Alabama Public Radio newsroom. She is an international student from Colombia at The University of Alabama. She is majoring in Communicative Disorders and Foreign Languages and Literature. She is part of the Blount Scholars Program and is also pursuing a minor in Music. Although she is not studying to become a journalist, Valentina enjoys reporting, interviewing and writing stories.
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