Committee Decision Delays Implementation of "Baby Boxes"

Mar 25, 2015

Indiana Rep. Casey Cox (left) and Sen. Jim Merritt (right) spoke before an Indiana Senate committee Wednesday.
Credit Brandon Smith / Indiana Public Broadcasting

Senate lawmakers Wednesday added a hurdle to a bill that would have allowed newborn incubators, or “baby boxes” to be placed at Safe Haven sites.  The legislature would now have to pass another bill next year to authorize the boxes.

Baby boxes are installed into the walls special locations – like hospitals and police and fire stations. They’re meant to provide mothers an extra layer of anonymity when dropping off unwanted newborns. 

Proposed legislation would have allowed the boxes beginning July 1, 2016.  But a change made in a Senate committee adds a new step before they become legal. 

Fort Wayne Republican Rep. Casey Cox, the bill’s author, says the Commission on Improving the Status of Children and the State Health Department will first be required to develop standards and protocols for the boxes by the end of this year, and report those to the General Assembly.

“We can then think and look, well what – we could ask questions of the Department of Health – what changes do we need to make to these?” Cox said. “And then the functional part would come about next year – that’s where it’s a two part process – for then authorization in July of 2016.”

The Commission on Improving the Status of Children would also be required to submit recommendations for improving the state’s existing safe haven law. 

The committee Wednesday unanimously advanced the bill to the Senate floor.