Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder, a Republican, vetoed legislation late last week that would have allowed parents to surrender unwanted infants by leaving them in a secured device — a “baby box” — located at hospitals, fire stations and police departments.
The GOP proposal expanded the state’s safe haven law, which was passed in 2000 and allows parents to give unwanted babies to an employee at any of those three facilities if the infants are under 72 hours old, according to The Detroit News.
Snyder described the current law as “an important and valuable policy to ensure unwanted newborn babies are not abandoned or harmed.”
“However,” he said, “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.”
More than 200 newborn babies have been surrendered in Michigan since 2001, most of which were given up at the hospital at the time of birth.
What is a “baby box?”
Under the vetoed legislation, the “newborn safety device,” also known as a “baby box,” would lock from the outside after a baby was placed inside, triggering a call to 911 within 30 seconds. The secured device would also include a panel of instructions.
Michigan state Rep. Bronna Kahle (R) said last year that the legislation “takes the necessary steps to ensure that no mother feels that she has to abandon her child illegally.”
And Monica Kelsey, founder of Safe Haven Baby Boxes, told politicians the boxes her organization installed in Indiana come with a bassinet inside and have heating and cooling features to keep the infant comfortable. Kelsey, who was abandoned as an infant, said a 911 call is triggered whenever the device is closed or opened.
The Republican-led state Senate passed the “baby box” legislation by a vote of 30-8, The Detroit News reported.