Lawmaker wants baby boxes at fire stations to protect unwanted newborns

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Rep. William Bruck, R-Erie.

Michigan House of Representatives

Rep. William Bruck, R-Erie.

Capital News Service

LANSING – A bill would allow baby boxes at fire stations across the state to make it easier for parents to anonymously surrender their newborns.

Rep. William Bruck, R-Erie, who introduced the bill, says he wants to make sure that unwanted babies are adopted as quickly and as safely as possible. 

Baby drop boxes are not a new concept and can be found all over the country, according to Bruck.

“It is a manufactured box for live babies to be dropped off in, and it allows for someone to give their baby up for adoption with complete and total anonymity,” said Bruck. 

The boxes signal when babies are put in so they can receive immediate attention.

The current process for handling unwanted newborns is high-maintenance and time-consuming, and the process should be simplified, he said.

“Instead of having the baby spend months in litigation or trying to contact a family member to claim the baby, the baby can be put into the adoption system immediately after being dropped off in the box,” he said. 

“There are plenty of people who are ready and willing to adopt a newborn baby, and this box makes that process easier,” he said. 

John Karasinski, the director of communications at the Michigan Health and Hospital Association, said he’s concerned about the safety of newborns who might be dropped off.

“It is important for medical personnel to get a brief medical history of the baby once it is dropped off,” said Karasinski. 

According to the current state law, parents may drop off a newborn at police stations, fire stations and hospitals. The process provides anonymity, although there is still person-to-person contact.

The association opposes Bruck’s legislation, which is pending in the House Families, Children and Seniors Committee. The cosponsors include Republican Reps. Matt Maddock of Milford, Gina Johnsen of Lake Odessa, Tom Kunse of Clare, Joseph Fox of Osseo and Douglas Wozniak of Shelby Township.

“Hospitals continue to be a safe place for individuals to drop off their babies. The need for the use of a baby box doesn’t exist,” he said. 

Then-Gov. Rick Snyder vetoed a similar bill in 2018. Snyder said that he did not believe that the use of a baby box was necessary, stating, “I do not believe it is appropriate to allow for parents to surrender a baby by simply depositing the baby into a device, rather than physically handing the baby to a uniformed police, fire or hospital employee.” 

Bruck said the need for baby boxes is expected to rise if a national abortion ban is imposed.

They have become increasingly popular, especially in states with restrictive abortion laws.

Fifteen states have laws regarding baby boxes, including neighboring Indiana and Ohio. Oregon is the most recent.

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