(Photo by Shelley Hanson) Safe Haven Baby Box Ohio Valley co-project manager Cassandra Elliott and project manager Ciarra Beaver hold the check donated to the effort by WVU Medicine Wheeling Hospital on Tuesday. For the river at Wheeling, West Virginia, Has only two shores: The one in hell, the other In Bridgeport, Ohio. And nobody would commit suicide, only To find beyond death Bridgeport, Ohio.
Last month I posted on plans for 2 proposed Safe Haven Baby Boxes in Wheeling. According to SHBB Inc’s own stats as well as my own, the state has had only 2 reported discard cases since 2017, but as they say: build it and they will come.
The baby box project is piloted by downtown beauty shop owner Ciarra Beaver and her mother Cassandra Ellot who is adopted. Beaver and Elliott have managed to arm-twist a $16,000 gift–$8,000 for each box–from West Virginia University Medicine Wheeling and Reyolds Memorial Hospitals. to pay for them.
Saturday The Intelligencer updated us on the progress of the project, and we finally got the reason why 2 baby abandonment boxes are an urgent necessity in Wheeling. According to Ms Beaver:
I see a lot of things downtown. I saw a mom and she was pregnant and she looked like she was displaced, and so I knew this would be a good thing for our city,” Beaver said. “Even if it doesn’t get used, it’s there. We hope it doesn’t get used, but in reality it’s going to get used.
Simply by gazing at a total stranger whom Ms Beaver fantasized was “displaced,” she extrapolated that the woman (or other unknown women like her) might harm or discard their babies when born. She extrapolated from that extrapolation that legal newborn abandonment-by-box is a solution for anything from high-end misogyny, domestic violence, and social and economic systemic rot to the trivial someone-having-a-bad-day: lift some unknown burden from the shoulders–and arms–of mothers by getting them to dump their babies into the safe warm arms of the state with no blame, no shame, no name.
I’m a bit familiar with Wheeling, and the last time I was there the entire town looked more displaced than Bridgeport hell. I live in the epicenter of American Dysfunction–the Great State of Texas–and look– or at least feel– “displaced” most of the time. No one has suggested a fundraising campaign to disappear me from the public conscience.
Not surprisingly, cases of newborn death by discard don’t make a blip on the West Virginia’s infant mortality rate.
According to America’s Health Rankings, (December 2023), West Virginia ranks 39th in the country (tied with SHBB Inc home-state Indiana) with a newborn death rate of 6.7 per 1,000 births. The 2023 March of Dimes Peristat Report says that 117 newborns died in the state in 2021–the majority due to birth defects.
As for the maternal mortality rate, America’s Health Rankings indicate that West Virginia is 21st in the US with 22.3 maternal deaths per 100,000 births (up to 42 days after the end of the pregnancy).
West Virginia also lacks hospitals. According to a 2020 news report from WCHS-TV Charleston in that year alone, 7 hospitals in the region had closed or declared bankruptcy leaving 13 counties without hospital services. At that rate, it could be worse now. Moreover, some hospitals suffer from low-bed capacity. A recent March of Dimes Maternity Care Desert Report classified a shocking 49.1% of West Virginia counties as maternity care deserts (US average: 32.6%); 22.2% of women had no birthing facilities within 30 minutes of their home. (US average: 9.2%).
These are real problems to address, not some off-brand street corner fantasy. But the SafeHaven Baby Box Brigade care little for facts. Thoughts and prayers and a baby-box-in-the-wall is their game.
In a healthy and sane society, it would be inconceivable that Ms Beaver’s ill-informed speculation, with absolutely no evidence to back her claim, would get to first base with the bigshots at WVUMed and Reynolds Hospitals. But we live in a society that is neither healthy nor sane. Creating a problem and coming up with a gratuitous state-private industry partner plan to solve it, that does nothing but cause real-life displacement and anonymization of child and mother. We are ruled by psychopaths and this is nuts.