Mississippi city proposes newborn safe haven wall box

September 21, 2022 GMT

LONG BEACH, Miss. (AP) — Long Beach has become the first Mississippi city to start approval of a “baby box,” where parents can anonymously give up infants.

The baby box would be the first installed between Texas and Georgia, The Gazebo Gazette reported.

The city’s Board of Aldermen voted unanimously Tuesday night for a proposed ordinance to allow installation of such a box in the city, and a final vote is scheduled Oct. 4. The city of 16,800 will then begin considering an appropriate location.

The box would be installed in an outer wall of a police station, fire station or hospital so a parent can leave a baby anonymously and safely, according to the nonprofit group Safe Haven Baby Boxes Inc.

There’s an outside and an inside door, and a silent alarm that goes off when the outer door is opened. A second sensor goes off when a baby is placed in the medical-grade bassinette.

All 50 states have safe haven laws which allow parents to leave their newborns at police stations, hospitals or firehouses without fear of prosecution.

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The group providing the boxes says many parents in crisis don’t know about those laws, or are afraid of recognition and the stigma associated with surrendering a child.

It uses private donations for production and installation costs, the newspaper reported.

Emergency medical service crews take the newborns to a hospital for evaluation, and child protection services begin procedures for adoption.

More than 100 baby boxes have been installed, according to the Safe Haven Baby Boxes website. The largest number is in Indiana, where the group was founded in 2016. Others are in Ohio, Kentucky, Arkansas, Florida, New Mexico and Arizona.