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Safe haven “baby box” laws just one of many pro-life laws that save lives

by | Jul 17, 2023

By Casey Romanoff Coffin, Legislative Assistant, Department of State Legislation

Editor’s note. This appears in the July digital edition of National Right to Life News. Please share this and the remainder of this 52 page issue with family and friends.

There is much talk among abortion advocates and the media about the “devastating impact” that “extremist” pro-life laws have had since Roe was overturned. Well, we in the pro-life community beg to differ. 

Laws protecting a child once his heartbeat can be detected; laws giving a mother the right to see her child on an ultrasound before having an abortion; laws protecting minor girls from being trafficked by a non-parent to get a secret abortion unbeknownst to their parents–one wonders what is so “devastating” about these protections. Pro-lifers are grateful for the existence of such laws that demonstrate that protective laws do, indeed, save lives.

A recent story from Florida is an example of how life-affirming laws encourage mothers to give life to their child.  In January, a newborn was placed in a safe haven “baby box” located at an Ocala, Florida fire station. Safe haven “baby box” laws allow a mother or father to anonymously and safely surrender their newborn child at a continuously monitored facility (usually located at a hospital, fire station, or emergency medical facility) without fear of prosecution. 

A “baby box” is a climate-controlled device installed in a conspicuous location at these facilities. When the child is placed in the box, an alarm triggers an alert to the emergency medical personnel that a child is there, ensuring the baby’s immediate care. 

Safe haven baby box laws exist in states including Arizona (called “baby drawers”), Arkansas, Florida, Indiana, Kentucky, Montana, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, and Tennessee. Some of these states do not yet have actual baby boxes. 

This legislative session, states like Mississippi increased the age of the child who can be surrendered to 45 days old.

The Florida firefighter and colleague who responded to the baby box alarm at their fire station found a newborn baby girl. They immediately took the girl into the station to see if she needed medical treatment, and she thankfully appeared healthy. 

The firefighter said he “instantly fell in love with her” and she stopped crying when she looked into his eyes. He accompanied the infant to the hospital. He called his wife, with whom he had been trying for a child for 10 years. He told her about the child and his instant bond with her. After just a few months, the couple adopted “Zoey.” 

What an amazing story of life and love. We pray, too, for the mother who placed her child in the baby box. We pray that she receives all physical and emotional support after giving Zoey a chance at life.

Safe haven baby box laws are just one example of many kinds of laws that give newborns a chance at life and allow pregnant mothers to receive practical support and assistance in their time of need. This legislative session saw an uptick in legislation to extend Medicaid coverage to postpartum women up to one year after birth; provide tax credits to promote adoption and contributions to pregnancy resource centers; and to exempt taxes on diapers. Let’s encourage our legislators to support real assistance for families in need.

The words of Pope Benedict XVI come to mind when reading the story of the mom who gave her child a chance at life at the Florida fire station: “The one who has hope lives differently; the one who hopes has been granted the gift of a new life.” 

Let us pray for that mom and for the family that adopted Zoey.

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