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Baby Boxes Legalization Effort Halted In Committee

A prototype of the baby box sits on a counter in the Woodburn Fire Station just outside of Fort Wayne. The boxes would be built into the walls of fire stations, police stations, hospitals or other qualified nonprofits such as domestic violence shelters.

An effort to legalize baby boxes in Indiana was halted in a Senate committee hearing about the boxes, which are meant to provide mothers an extra layer of anonymity when dropping off unwanted newborns.

In 2015, the legislature said the Department of Health should create standards and rules to govern baby boxes. But the Commission on Improving the Status of Children did not recommend the boxes and the health department declined to create rules for them.

The Department of Child Services has since challenged the legality of the state’s two existing boxes, both of which are in firehouses.

A proposed amendment to a bill on the safe haven law would officially authorize the boxes, but only in hospitals – meaning the two existing boxes wouldn’t be legal.

But DCS legislative director Parvonay Stover says baby boxes are untested.

“We can and we should require a better standard for our babies,” Stover says,

The amendment didn’t get enough support to even take a vote on it.

Amendment author Sen. Travis Holdman (R-Markle) says he’ll try to find a compromise.

“Threading the needle is going to be the trick here to come up with language that DCS will not overly object to but is going to satisfy those who have a baby box in their community,” Holdman says.

Holdman must find his solution before the end of the month, the deadline to pass bills out of their initial chamber.

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