A package of bills is heading to Governor Rick Snyder’s desk allowing specialized “baby boxes” for safe surrendering of a newborn. The package passed with bipartisan votes in both the Michigan House and Senate.
These bills modify the existing Safe Delivery of Newborns Law to allow the baby boxes and increase the current age of surrender from 72 hours to 30 days after birth. The baby boxes will be climate-controlled, lock upon closing, and trigger an alarm when a newborn is placed in them.
“Abandoned infants are a tragedy that still happens too often,” Right to Life of Michigan President Barbara Listing said. “These baby boxes could make the difference between life and death for newborns in these situations.”
Michigan’s Safe Delivery law currently allows anonymous surrender of a newborn baby to an emergency service provider. The baby is then placed for adoption. A parent may change his/her mind and request that the infant be returned within 28 days of surrender.
Listing said, “We must help young women and teens be better informed about this law. If they think they are in a situation with no other choice, there is a confidential life-saving option for them. The baby boxes help reassure women that surrendering the newborn is confidential.”
The Michigan House passed the package of bills (HB 5750, 5751, 5953 & 5954) on May 16. The Michigan Senate passed the package on December 18, and the House concurred with two small amendments on December 21.
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The late State Representative Patty Birkholz played an integral role in originally crafting the Safe Delivery of Newborns Law in 2000. Birkholz served in the Michigan Legislature from 1997 to 2008.
“Patty Birkholz was passionate about bringing this law to Michigan to help make sure no child was ever abandoned,” Listing said. “We are happy her law is still saving lives and we’ll keep building on this legacy.”
The Safe Delivery law took effect on January 1, 2001. The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services announced that the 200th infant had been safely delivered under the law on June 7, 2017.
Indiana, Ohio, and Pennsylvania have laws allowing similar baby boxes