The Michigan House of Representatives this week approved legislation introduced by state Rep. Bronna Kahle to ensure the safety of newborn babies surrendered by their parents in Michigan.
The bills passed with bipartisan support.
Since 2001, Michigan’s Safe Delivery of Newborns law has allowed parents to surrender their newborns to a safe place instead of endangering their lives through abandonment. Over 200 babies have been safely surrendered in Michigan since the law was originally passed.
The bills would expand the Safe Delivery of Newborns to give parents the option to use a newborn safety device as a method to safely surrender their newborn child at to an employee at a hospital, fire station or police station. This is an extension of the arms of the emergency professional inside the building.
The devices are optional and privately funded.
“This plan takes the necessary steps to ensure the safety of the newborn and helps make sure that no mother feels like she has to abandon her child illegally again,” said Kahle. “This gives the mom, who makes a critical decision to give up their child, the opportunity get that infant in a place that’s safe and yet allows her total anonymity without fear of prosecution.”
The device is a box installed in the walls of an emergency location that has heating and cooling features to keep newborns safe and comfortable. Sensors are attached that notify emergency personnel within seconds of an infant being left in one and also triggers a call to 9-1-1.
“These Safe Haven Boxes protect the child and provide a safe and legal alternative to abandonment,” Kahle said. “They are installed into the wall of a fire department or a hospital and are climate controlled. It is a little bassinet like the ones that are used in the newborn units of a hospital.”
The bills also change the definition of a newborn from 72 hours old to not more than 30 days old. This gives parents up to 30 days to safely, legally and anonymously surrender their child to the care of professionals.
Monica Kelsey, a firefighter with the Woodburn Fire Department in Indiana, and founder of the Safe Haven Baby Boxes, testified in support of Kahle’s bill.
House Bills 5750, 5953-54 are sent to the Senate for its consideration.