Indiana's Commission on Improving the Status of Children voted Wednesday not to pursue a statewide newborn safety incubator program. But advocates of the so-called “baby boxes” say there’s hope for progress in the future.
Baby boxes, installed into the walls of “safe haven” locations, are meant to provide mothers an extra layer of anonymity when dropping off unwanted newborns.
Legislation authored earlier this year by Rep. Casey Cox (R-Fort Wayne) required the Commission on Improving the Status of Children to create recommendations for the General Assembly on using the boxes.
State Department of Health Deputy Commissioner Jennifer Walthall led the team that researched the boxes -- and she says the data out of Europe, where the boxes are most widely used, shows they don’t make as compelling an impact as advocates hope.
“Specifically in Germany, where the study was done over 10 years and was fairly robust, they actually had an increased number of infants that were relinquished into baby boxes and more infants over that same period of time who were abandoned unsafely,” Walthall says.
Cox says he still anticipates legislation in coming sessions – likely in 2017, that would provide legal immunity to private groups that still want to use baby boxes.