If Gov. Rick Snyder signs the bill into law, Michigan fire departments, police departments and hospitals would be allowed to install “baby boxes” at their facilities.
Named “safe delivery of newborn law,” the bill allows for the installation of these units that would safely hold a newborn, providing warmth and oxygen, locking from the outside. It also sends a 911 call to alert authorities to the infant’s presence within 30 seconds.
On Tuesday, Dec. 18, the State Senate passed House Bill 5750, which is sponsored by Bronna Kahle (R-Adrian).
An earlier version of the bill was passed by the Michigan House of Representatives in May.
These 2018 bills modify the original 2000 law that allowed face-to-surrendering of newborns.
State Rep. Joe Graves (R-51st district) voted in favor of the House bill in May. “The bill provides a safe and legal method of surrendering a baby, and works to eliminate the stigma of surrendering a newborn baby in person,” he said.
He said the Senate bill, which was passed on Tuesday, modifies the May 2018 House bill, to include holding the manufacturer of the device liable for any injury to the child. Now the House bill has to be amended to match, before being sent to Snyder’s desk.
Since 2001, 200 infants have been surrendered at police and fire stations across Michigan, through the current version of the law. It allows infants less than 72 hours old to be safely and legally surrendered at police stations, and eventually fire stations and hospitals. The idea was that the children would then not be abandoned somewhere far less safe. This will be the law until the new changes make it to Snyder’s desk.
Local police departments reported no surrendered infants since the law was enacted in 2000, but also said they’d follow the new law as written. “This has never occurred at the Fenton Police Department,” said Chief Jason Slater for a previous article. “If it did, we would contact Child Protective Services and then enlist medical services to ensure the child’s well-being.”
According to non-profit organization “Safe Haven Baby Boxes,” there are five of these units in existence, four in Indiana, and one in Ohio. All but one are at fire departments. One is at a hospital in Columbus, Ohio.