House Votes To Legalize Baby Boxes, Including Existing Devices

Apr 6, 2017

The vast majority of House lawmakers approved a bill to legalize baby boxes in hospitals – over the objections of the Department of Child Services.

The measure now also sanctions the state’s two existing boxes.

Baby boxes are intended to provide mothers with more anonymity when dropping off newborns. Current law gives people immunity from child abandonment charges only if the baby is delivered to another person.

Rep. Martin Carbaugh (R-Fort Wayne) says the reality is that some mothers aren’t willing to face another person when dropping off their newborn.

“This law and these devices would give these women anonymity and these babies the opportunity for life,” Carbaugh says.

The bill only allows baby boxes in hospitals. Both of the state’s existing boxes are at firehouses, and the bill grandfathers them in.

Rep. Vanessa Summers (D-Indianapolis) says she’s uncomfortable with the boxes because there’s no industry standard and few safety requirements.

“I feel a little better with the hospitals being able to design it. So we’ll see how that goes,” Summers says,

Summers was one of only four House members to vote no, while 92 voted in favor. The bill goes back to the Senate.