Controversial ‘Baby Boxes’ May Begin Popping Up Soon

In order to protect baby abandonment and death, the Indiana State Legislature has approved a new bill that would allow hospitals, police and fire stations, churches and select non-profit organizations to install a two-foot-long metal incubator that some are referring to as “baby boxes.”

This so-called latest weapon would give parents the opportunity to surrender their newborns anonymously. It could certainly become a common sight in The Hoosier State if the bill, which was introduced by State Representative Casey Cox, makes it through the State Senate and signed by Governor Mike Pence.

The controversial concept, which actually dates back to the Medieval Times and is currently used in China and throughout Europe by the names of baby hatches or angel cradles, is drawing mixed criticisms from citizens and child organizations.

Proponents say such a metal box could prevent infanticide and help surrendering parents avoid facing prosecution as long as the baby is unharmed. Critics say, however, the box doesn’t do much to address the issue of abandonment and instead makes it easier to abandon the child. They add that the state government should do more enacting existing laws.

baby boxes

Opponents of the initiative allude to China, where the boxes were so inundated with abandoned babies that local authorities had to restrict their use and in some cases even closed them.

Dawn Geras, president of the Save the Abandoned Babies Foundation, told the Associated Press that safe haven laws have resulted in nearly 3,000 safe surrenders over the past 20 years, but 1,400 other children have still been found illegally abandoned, and one-third of these have perished.

Geras further purports that parents who leave their babies at safe haven sites need medical care, and they won’t get this if they are left in a box. Also, when a parent hands over the child to a trained professional, there is a better chance of a person determining if the parent is facing financial despair or some other type of problem that could prevent the parent from looking after the baby.

“If you use a baby box, you have stripped away that option,” Geras said. “There’s a lot of things that need to be done to improve safe haven laws throughout the country, but that’s not one of them.”

Cox disagrees and says this would stop parents from leaving their babies in the woods and other dangerous places.

The matter has become so serious that the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child has urged these boxes to be banned in Europe. To circumvent abandonment, the UN believes countries should install family planning programs and other support measures to find a solution to the roots of child abandonment.

Baby boxes is now subject of a documentary entitled “The Drop Box,” which looks at a pastor in Seoul, South Korea who is attempting to tackle child abandonment. In 2013, 152 infants were abandoned in South Korea, up from 62 in the previous year.

In the U.S., an estimated 7,000 babies are abandoned every single year, according to 2006 statistics as per Gale Encyclopedia of Children’s Health: Infancy through Adolescence.