Michigan Senate approves ‘baby box’ plan for parents to surrender newborns

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LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) – The state Senate approved a bill late last night that would allow “baby boxes” to be installed at Michigan hospitals, police, and fire departments.

The purpose of the baby box is for parents to have a place to drop off unwanted newborns anonymously.

Supporters say it will help keep kids safe, but opponents are worried it would cause more harm than good.   

“If you turn over your baby, you walk into a police station, fire station, or a hospital, you’re identified. Some people want to do it without being identified,” said State Sen. Rick Jones (R- Grand Ledge).

That’s why lawmakers are pushing baby boxes. They would allow parents to drop off newborns if they can’t take care of them.

“As a former police officer, I saw babies thrown into the garbage dumpsters, abandoned, it’s a horrible thing,” said Jones.

State Senator Rick Jones is a supporter.

“It’s so much better to have a baby given up and hopefully adopted by loving parents,” said Jones.

The boxes would work like this: after a baby is placed inside, the box would automatically lock, and then an alert would be sent to 911 within 30 seconds.

“I think if we’re going to do this we got to make sure that it’s safe and that was the goal of the original sponsor, but at the same time I had some concerns in that regard,” said State Senator Curtis Hertel (D- East Lansing).

Hertel says he pushed for an addition to the bill that would hold manufacturers responsible if a baby is injured.

“For me, the most important thing was that if we’re going to allow these things to exist, we have to make sure that they’re done in a safe way,” said Hertel.

But he says he’s willing to compromise because he thinks this will ultimately help parents who are unable to take care of their child.

“In the situations where it does happen, we want to make sure that the infant is safe,” said Hertel.

Michigan has allowed mothers to drop of babies, no questions asked, as part of the Safe Haven Law that began 2001, but they have to go inside to do so.

Baby boxes would allow them to do it without coming face-to-face with someone. The bill is headed to the state House for approval.

ORIGINAL STORY: Under legislation passed by the state Senate late Tuesday night, Michigan hospitals, police, and fire departments would be allowed to install “baby boxes” outside of its’ buildings.

This would allow parents to drop off newborns safely if they are unable to take care of them themselves.

State Senator Rick Jones (R- 24th District), who supports the bill, says this is a great way to keep Michigan children safe.

“It’s certainly not something you’d want to find, a baby in a garbage dumpster. It’s so much better to have a baby given up, hopefully adopted by loving parents,” said Jones.

State Senator Curtis Hertel (D-23rd District) says he supports the “baby box” as well, as long as regulations are up to par.

“To me, the most important thing was that if we are going to allow these things to exist, we have to make sure that they’re done in a safe way,” said Hertel.

6 News reporter Dana Whyte will have more on this story tonight on 6 News at 5 p.m.

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