Whoopee ti yi yo, git along little babies It's your misfortune and none of their own Whoopee ti yi yo, git along little babies You know that baby boxes will be your new home
The 2023 legislative season has been busy and brutal.
Twenty Safe Haven Baby Box bills were introduced. (+in many cases companion bills). Some were brand new bills to authorize baby box installation in their respective states and some were amendments to expand or clarify procedures for in-place safe haven and baby box laws.
- increased the age of babies eligible for drop off in trad and Safe Haven Baby Box “plans;” (This, test-drive parenthood scheme, of course, will cook the “saved” stats)
- authorized under-staffed or unstaffed emergency service locations to voluntarily become baby box locations if they meet certain remote alarm qualifications.
- transfer of custody, care, and adoption placement mandates from state agencies to private adoption agencies for trad and boxed babies. This has been the practice in some states for years, but now it’s a trend. These new procedures are huckstered as beneficial for babies. Instead of “lingering” in foster care for a couple of weeks, our boxed brethren can bond seamlessly with their forever families immediately. Importantly, the state can save money as well by palming off “care” expenses to adoption agencies which in turn can pass along those charges and soak adopters for even more bling. Indiana SB345, (see below) is the worst. It permits receiving locations to bypass the state altogether and take the dumped infant directly to an adoption agency without as much as a report to DCS; therefore, creating an innovative and legal trafficking system.
The bills came fast and furious; making it difficult to keep up with and act on. Some were framed falsely by politicians and their friends in the media as “emergency” legislation that necessitated immediate passage to stop a discard and neonaticide epidemic that doesn’t exist. They were bulldozed through in a few working days (less the governor’s signature), although some lawmakers held their ground and remained opposed to boxes. The media remained incurious and regurgitated SHBB Inc propaganda. For the most part, requests made by bill opponents to media to be included in coverage were ignored. As far as the public was concerned, nobody but total cranks or Satanists objected.
So far, 7 new states legalized boxes, 3 amended their SHBB laws, 3 bills are still live, and 6 failed due to hard opposition in a committee or chamber or failure to pass legislative committee and house deadlines (Sine Die)
Below is a rundown of states:
PASSED: New States (7)
ALABAMA HB473: Authorizes SHBBs; expands SH locations, currently limited to hospitals with 24/7 emergency services, to fire and police stations. Allows parents to test-drive their babies by extending age-frame from 72 hours to 45 days. The bill passed unanimously in 15 calendar days. Gov. Ivey hasn’t signed the bill yet, but she will. Bill Sponsor Donna Givens has secured anonymous funding for boxes in 10 cities. (UPDATE:June 24, 2023: The bill has been signed by the governor.)
IOWA HF425: Authorizes SHBBs at state-approved locations; lets parents test-drive their babies up to 90 days of age. (Age-frame of current law).
KANSAS HB2024: Authorizes SHBBs at state-approved locations. Extends age- rame from 45 days to 60. Includes protections for Indian children. We got a gag order amendment added to the bill that prohibits locations and other agencies and individuals from making public any information about a drop-off. This means that Safe Haven Babyh Boxes Inc is legally barred from being informed about the surrender; and therefore unable to hold a press conference, fundraise or otherwise exploit the case for its own benefit as it likes to do in other states. (Found at the bottom of the last page of the bill)
MISSISSIPPI HB1318: Authorizes SHBBs to be sponsored by emergency service providers; authorizes a city or county to sponsor a device as long st it meets state law requirements. Amends state law to provide that any church licensed with the Department of Child Protection Services to receive children under the law be considered an emergency provider. More parental test–driving: increases age- frame from 72- hours to 45 days.
MONTANA HB200: Authorizes SHBBs to be installed in state-approved locations; allows for 911-call pick-up by designated service providers in traditional SH cases. Maintains 30-day age- frame.
TEXAS SB780 Authorizes SHBBs to be installed in state-approved locations for infants up to the current age-frame of 60 days of age; proposes minor changes to trad SH law. Amendment was offered in the House version that deleted baby box language from the bill, but it was defeated.
WEST VIRGINIA HB3559: Poorly written bare-bones bill; authorizes SHBBs to be located in state-approved locations for infants up to the current age-frame of 30 days Bill was passed in 15 calendar days. Under state legislative rules, no public hearings are held on bills.
Passed: Amendments to in-place SHBB laws (3)
ARKANSAS HB1098: Permits unstaffed or unstaffed volunteer fire stations that have a dual-alarm system that will dispatch the nearest first responder affiliated with the fire department to retrieve a boxed baby left at the fire department in the event that all first responders affiliated with the fire department are dispatched for a separate emergency.
INDIANA SB345: The most dangerous SHBB bill passed so far, and a harbinger of what is to come in other states unless we can stop it. The bill was written to fit the SHBB Inc agenda of wresting state oversight of SH/SHBB cases and putting absolute control into the hands of private adoption agencies. It basically legalizes child trafficking in the state. The bill authorizes, but not mandates, SH locations to bypass reporting traditional and baby box drop-offs to the state and to contact adoption agencies directly to take custody and make the placement. Requires DCS or an adoption agency to file a petition to terminate parental rights not later than 15 days after taking custody of the infant. Requires adoption agencies to place the infant with a pre-approved foster care provider who intends to adopt. Provides that both parents’ consent to termination of rights is irrevocably implied without further court action if after at least 28 days neither parent petitions the court for custody. Provides that notice is not required. Prohibits the court from inquiring about the reasons for the parents’ absence. Adds SH infants to the list of exceptions to required preservation and reunification rules. To learn more about the implications of this law see testimony from Bastard Nation (and here)and the Adoptee Rights Law Center.
TENNESSEE HB164: Requires Department of Children’s Services to designate an authorized nonprofit licensed adoption agency to assume physical care, custody, and control of infants left in a SH drop-off location or in a baby box; specifies that a court may waive the 6-month waiting period after the filing of an adoption petition. Tennessee passed its baby box law only last year; has 1 baby box; and 1 baby box case.
Live Bills (4)
NEW JERSEY A2671: Requires newly constructed police stations, fire stations, and hospitals to provide baby boxes. Similar bills have been introduced for several years and have gone nowhere. The state has no SHBB law or boxes. The bill is currently in the House Women and Children Committee.
OHIO HB109: authorizes under-staffed and unstaffed emergency facilities to install baby boxes as long as the box triggers a 911 call. This bill is a response to last year’s dispute between SHBB Inc and the Ohio Department of Health, which investigated reports of a lack of staff and other problems at fire baby box-equipped fire stations. One box was shut down and later removed and other boxes are on hold for installation or opening. Another box was shut down due to the inability to obtain a part for a malfunctioning device. In response to the investigation, SHBB Inc launched a telephone harassment campaign against DOH on TikTok and later refused to meet with DOH officials when they refused to include fire station reps who were under investigation. (See SSHBBN Ohio State page for more information.) Ohio authorized baby boxes in 2017; currently, 6 boxes are in use but have never been used. The bill is currently in the House Judiciary Committee.
PENNSYLVANIA HB267: Authorizes Urgent Care Facilities to be traditional and SHBB locations as long as a 911 alarm is in place. Pennsylvania passed its SHBB law in 2018, but it appears no regulations have been written. Recently, the first box was opened, and it has not been used. The bill is currently in the Senate Judiciary Committee.
VIRGINIA HB2211: The state’s SHBB law has only been in effect a few months, but already it is being amended. The bill establishes protocols for placement of SH/SHBB cases. Directs local boards of social services to contact licensed adoption agencies from a rotating list maintained by the local board to take custody of infant. The bill is probably dead, but could be heard if the legislature is called into a special session. No boxes have been installed in the state, SHBB Inc claims 5 are on the way.
DEAD BILLS (6)
FLORIDA S870: 3rd time SHBB bills have gone down the tubes, thanks mainly to Sen. Lauren Book, The bill amended the state SH law to allow SHBB sat state-approved locations and increased the age- frame from 7 to 10 days. Allowed 911 emergency to pick up babies. Allowed parents to evoke “safe haven status” even if identity is known when giving birth in hospitals and kept the parent’s’ names off the birth certificates- probably already being done without codification. Despite no such investigations occurring, the bill prohibited criminal investigation of parents who use SH plans except if abuse or neglect is suspected. Required baby box locations to be staffed 24/7, but if the entire station was out on a run and empty,a dual alarm would be required to be placed to dispatch the nearest first responder. Bill passed House, but Sen Book refused to give it a hearing in the Senate Rules Committee. Despite no law, Florida has one baby box that has been used once, and at least 2 others are planned in the near future.
MAINE LD530: Last year Maine passed baby box authorization, but safety and installation regulations have not been written. This bill, pushed by baby boxers, repealed the rule-making requirement; thus, abolishing major safety protections. The bill received mixed support in the House Judiciary Committee and was placed in the “unfinished business” file. On June 20-21 it was defeated in both houses.
MISSISSIPPI: 2 other SHBB bills died in committee/failed to meet legislative deadline.s Sine Die
NEW MEXICO SB311: : Authorized SHBBs with very specific requirements for installation, operations monitoring safety procedures; included protections in the state’s Indian Family Protection Act. Allowed first responders to pick up. Replaced 60 day age limit with the word “infant.” Allocated $70,000 for advertising SHBB locations within each county. Although the bill had a lot of support, the Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee called baby boxes “creepy.” The bill failed to move out of the committee when the sponsor said he would consider amending out box language. Whether a bill passes or not is moot. Several NM towns have installed or are planning to install boxes and the governor’s office has allocated $330,000 to pay up to $10,00 for one in each county. Sine Die
OKLAHOMA HB 1047: Increased age-frame for SH and SHBB infants from 30 to 60 days. Failed to meet committee deadlines. Sine Die.
For more information:
- SHBBN Legislative Page for up-to-date step-by-step rundown of bills
- SSHBBN State pages for additional legislative information and news stories
- Targeted Communities: Check This List to Learn If Your Town is Next
- Safe Haven Baby Box Prpomotors