Just in time for Krampus, Washington State lawmakers Rep Gina Mosbrucker, and Rep Lauren Davis pre-filed HB1888, (HB18988 Leg. page)a bill to amend the state’s safe haven law to include Safe Haven Baby Boxes as an “option” for desperate parents–what they mean is mothers–to dump an inconvenient newborn in a box in the wall at state-approved facilities, with no legal or moral consequences. Bye-Bye Baby Bumble!
The bill is pretty straightforward and non-technical, which leaves a lot of wiggle room for tom-foolery, but I’ve seen bills with much less. It is clearly written to Safe Haven Baby Boxes Inc specs.
Specifically, the bill amends Washington State’s Safe Haven Law to (1) expand the age limit from 72 hours to 31 days of age; (2) allow the use of baby boxes; (3) requires an annual public report on cases.
Then it gets really interesting. Although Monica Kelsey, founder and President of SHBB Inc brags and assures the public that the boxes are not funded by taxpayer money, the bill requires the following:
(a) The department shall provide grant funding for at least three newborn transfer locations to install, maintain, and provide outreach regarding newborn safety devices. One of the newborn transfer locations provided funding under this subsection must be located in Indian country. The grant funding under this subsection must be provided to newborn transfer locations in populous areas in the following locations: (i) Central Washington; (ii) East of the crest of the Cascade mountain range; and (iii) West of the crest of the Cascade mountain range.(b) As used in this section, the term “Indian country” has the same meaning as provided in Title 18 U.S.C. Sec. 1151.
As we have shown on our Baby Box Promoters and Funders in the US & Canada page a substantial amount of public state and municipal funds have either paid for or pledged to pay for the abandonment boxes. There is probably more we don’t know about.
- State of Indiana: $1,000,000
- New Mexico: $330,000
- City of San Antonio: $438,000
- City of Beech Grove, Indiana $19,000 (Covid money)
(NOTE: This does not include the Union Township, Ohio, debacle since I don’t have a genuine accounting yet. SA and Beech Grove will be added to the list shortly)
Check out the private grants and of course, the other donors and promotors.
Another concern is the mandated Indian Country box. In the past Native American tribes and child welfare advocates have been leery if not opposed to traditional safe haven laws and SHBB. Some states add ICWA or their own state Indian child welfare law protections in their safe haven/SHBB laws, but I see no protections in the new bill or the current Washington State law.
Unlike the majority of bills that pop up without warning, this bill is pre-filed so we have time to work on a strategy specific to Washington State to kill this bill. We’ll let you know how you can help soon.