FRANKFORT, Ky. (KT) – One of the many bills signed by Gov. Andy Beshear on Thursday was one aimed at saving newborn lives by providing a safe surrender option.
The measure, House Bill 155, would define and allow the use of a "newborn safety device" in the anonymous surrendering of a newborn infant at a participating staffed police station, fire station or hospital.
“I am committed to passing pro-life legislation, and, ultimately, that is exactly what this bill is,” said the sponsor, Rep. Nancy Tate, R-Brandenburg. “Pro-life means supporting parents and children before and after birth. This bill provides parents who may be at the end of their rope a safe option to save the life of their child. I appreciate the bipartisan support the bill received in the House and the Senate and thank the governor for signing it into law.”
Baby boxes are temperature-controlled, ventilated boxes that can be installed easily at public buildings or other safe places throughout a community. They are monitored electronically for safety, and 911 is notified as soon as the outer door of the box is opened.
Once the infant is placed into the bassinet and the door is closed, a second sensor triggers emergency services. A button on the outside of the box also allows whoever placed the baby in the safe box to trigger another call to 911. Emergency personnel usually arrive at the site in less than five minutes.
Advocates of HB 155 indicate that this measure would allow a parent who does not feel that she or he can take care of a newborn to surrender the child in a safe place without being recognized or prosecuted.
In 2016, the “Safe Haven Baby Box” program was added to state law in Indiana. Since the program was enacted and the Safe Haven Baby Box program became an option, no infants have been reported as abandoned in the Hoosier State.
The measure unanimously passed both the Kentucky House and Senate, prior to its signing by the governor.