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Committee Approves Bill Sanctioning Use Of Baby Boxes

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.

A Senate panel advanced a bill Monday that sanctions the use of so-called “baby boxes” in hospitals. It’s the same language that couldn’t get enough support for a vote last week.

Indiana has two existing baby boxes, both in firehouses. The boxes are meant to be a more anonymous way for someone to leave an unwanted newborn. The Department of Child Services, DCS, has questioned their legality.

Senate Republican Travis Holdman’s (R-Markle) amendment to legalize baby boxes in hospitals failed to get support for a vote last week. But this week, Holdman offered the same amendment and it passed unanimously, as did the overall bill.

Holdman says full support came after he spoke more with committee members, who weren’t fully briefed last week.

And Holdman says his amendment incorporates a DCS suggestion, but he acknowledges it isn’t language DCS loves, likes or might even be able to live with.

“Their suggestion was to limit it to hospitals only, or hospital facilities that are staffed 24-7,” Holdman says. “And so I think this is a good way to start; we see what the response is.”

Last week, DCS didn’t oppose the amendment but said baby boxes need stricter standards than it provides. The agency did not address the committee this week.

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