Thursday, November 19, 2015

Safe Haven Baby Boxes Responds to Commission Hearing

On November 18, 2015 Indiana's Commission on Improving the Status of Children voted against a statewide program mandating Baby Boxes throughout Indiana. Their stated  reasoning was the baby boxes should not be mandatory and the cost is too high. House Enrolled Act 1016 clearly stated that this was voluntary and the state would incur no fees for this program, but these facts were ignored.
Dr. Jen Walthall, the deputy commissioner of the Indiana State Department of Health, suggested that Indiana would be better served if Hoosiers were better educated on the state’s safe haven law and resources available to mothers.  Dr. Walthall included in her report vague references to medieval practices and provided statistics that have been shown to be false on infant abandonment in Indiana. She then simultaneously admitted that there are no good statistics on infant abandonment.  The task force acted outside of the scope of legislation and its recommendations do not preclude the implementation of “baby boxes” as a last resort option for communities who desire to provide this measure to save the life of babies at risk for abandonment.  Discussion of cost by this committee was moot, as  the baby boxes are being privately funded by caring people who believe that if the baby box saves even one child a cruel death in a dumpster or by the side of a highway, it  is worth every effort. 
The Task force stated that education on the existing law needed to take place and yet Indiana State Department of Health has not participated in an education program to this date.  The majority of the education has been done by non-profit, privately funded organizations. 

Representative Casey Cox issued the following statement:

“On Wednesday November 18, 2015, the Indiana Commission on Improving the Status of Children declined to recommend that Indiana pursue a statewide policy with respect to newborn safety incubators, sometimes referred to as ‘baby boxes’ or ‘angels cradles,’ as prescribed in the original version of House Enrolled Act 1016.  Still, the Commission acknowledged that providers could likely implement newborn safety incubators on their own.  In the next few weeks the Indiana Department of Health will be required by HEA 1016 to issue standards and protocols for the development of newborn safety incubators.  Using these standards, providers may choose to voluntarily implement such a mechanism to support the existing Indiana Safe Haven law.   The Commission approved a separate resolution that should providers undertake this method voluntarily, the State should seriously consider whether to extend immunity protections to providers and persons under such circumstances.
When we started this discussion two years ago, one of our main goals was to create a dialogue about preventing the tragedy of newborn infant abandonment.  We have succeeded at that beyond my expectations.  Our discussion grew out of Indiana across the country and overseas.  As we continue this discussion, I will be ready to pursue whatever legislative protections may be necessary to compliment this important lifesaving endeavor.”

In conclusion, Monica Kelsey, founder of Safe Haven Baby Boxes states the following:

“I am disappointed that the Indiana Commission on Improving the Status of Children yesterday failed to do adequate research into Indiana's Safe Haven Law and acknowledge the lives of the 34 illegally abandoned babies in Indiana. The history lesson we received yesterday by the task force was inaccurate and did not include the statistics on abandoned babies for Indiana, as they stated they were not available. Since I have those statistics, which include abandoned babies and safe surrenders in the State of Indiana, I would have been more than willing to share these statistics and their sources, in order for them to provide a more accurate report to the commission. From the very beginning of this project I have always focused on saving the lives of abandoned babies, the goal was never about passing a law. With that being said, we are legally moving forward and will have 5 boxes deployed in 5 different cities in Indiana within the next 90 days. We  will continue all of our efforts  to save the lives of abandoned babies,  as this is and has always been our main objective.”

If you would like more information or to schedule an interview with Monica Kelsey, please contact 260-750-3668 or email Pam Stenzel at the following address: