Last week the Village Council of Pioneer, Ohio, unanimously approved installation of a baby drop box at the village fire station. Safe Haven Baby Boxes has made no announcement—only a teaser on its FB page.
Pioneer is located in Williams County near the Indiana-Michigan border and has a population of 1300 It is hardly a baby dump center and is an odd choice for a launch site, except that SHBB founder Monica Kelsey has a personal connection to the area. Consider it a homecoming gesture.
Unfortunately, baby drop boxes are legal by default in Ohio, since no law prohibits their use. Ohio’s Safe Haven law, however, requires a personal, face-to-face handover, so any drop box in the state would be out of compliance with the statute. It is doubtful that a parent using the high-tech hole-in-the-wall would be prosecuted, but anyone counseling its use or even the village could be subject to civil suit under certain circumstances.
Like Ohio, baby boxes in Indiana are legal by default, and two have been installed in the state (Woodburn and Michigan City) and more are reported on the way. Documents have been generated by the controversy in Indiana, which ended in the state refusal to support their use. Pioneer Village Council may not have been aware of them::
- Commission on Improving the Status of Children. HEA 1016 Report Indiana Task Force on Infant Mortality and Child Health Commission on Improving the Status of Children, November 18, 2015.
- DCS and ISDH statement regarding baby boxes
- letter from Dr. Jerome Adams, Indiana State Health Commission to Baby Box bill sponsor Casey Cox, February 17,2016
From the Adams-Cox letter:
After considering all the factors outlined in the law, ISDH found that there were no specifications or function requirement that could be created that would ensure the safety and security of children placed in such a device. There are currently no standards–either internationally or here in the United States–for the design, manufacturing and maintenance of material housing for abandoned children. If such a device were to be used it would be be imperative that industry professionals provide recommendations on how to best conform to the local standards that hospital systems and other Safe Haven sites across the country would be able to support. Additionally, as a medical device, any device designed to house an abandoned baby should undergo certification and testing to standards set by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the International Electrotechnical Commission or other agencies as appropriate Consequently, our recommendation is that this avenue be pursued by the Vendor . . . . Even if the ISDH were given regulatory authority and performed routine inspections of newborn safety incubators, we could not ensure an infant’s safety There are no standards or protocols that could ensure a device would not malfunction, which could potentially result in the harm of an infant. Indiana’s babies are too precious to take this risk
These documents and others will be presented to Ohio legislators if a bill is introduced to legitimize baby drop boxes in here. The Pioneer Village Council should take a look at them, too.
Right now the question is will Pioneer follow through?
First published in The Daily Bastardette on May 24, 2016