Michigan’s Safe Haven law, which allows parents to surrender an unharmed newborn within 72 hours of birth – no questions asked – may be upgraded in the near future to include ‘baby boxes’. Not sure what a baby box is? You’re not alone. It’s actually an amazing phenomenon that is cropping up all over the world, and now Michigan may have them too. Curious? Let’s take a look….
What is a ‘baby box’ and what does it do?
A ‘baby box’ (sometimes called a baby hatch) for newborn surrender, is a specially designed box that a parent can place a newborn baby into, which keeps them safe, and allows the parent to make the surrender without having to come face-to-face with authorities. The box usually has a flap-like door that the parent can pull open, revealing a soft and safe space for a baby. Once the door is closed it cannot be opened again until the baby inside the box has been safely collected by a designated authority.
According to safehavenbabyboxes.com, “Safe Haven Baby Boxes allows a mother to place her unwanted child in a safe haven baby box that is outside of selected fire stations. These boxes are equipped with a heating and cooling feature and are equipped with ADT silent alarm trips so emergency personal will be notified within 30 seconds that there is a newborn placed in the box. The child will then be picked up by EMS within 3-5 minutes.”
What does Michigan’s ‘Safe Haven’ law say?
Like every other state in the US, Michigan has a safe haven law, which allows parents to safely and anonymously surrender an infant to authorities within 72 hours, or three days, of the child’s birth. No questions asked. No legal backlash. No criminal charges. Or as as the Safe Haven website puts it, “No blame, no shame, no names.”
Parents safely surrendering infants have the option to confidentially share identifying information or basic health information, which will help the baby’s future adoptive family. But they aren’t required to. Surrendering a healthy, unharmed baby under the Safe Haven law will never result in criminal charges against the parents, and will offer them a chance at life. It will also negate any chance that the parents will later be prosecuted for neglect, abuse or abandonment of that child.
What changes will the new law bring?
The Michigan House has passed legislation approving the use of baby boxes in Michigan. This would allow parents to surrender their healthy newborns at fire departments, police stations and hospitals via the boxes, as well as in person to the correct authorities. This includes first responders like police, EMTs, firefighters and hospital workers.
If the new law is passed, the definition of newborn will be amended from 3 days to 30 days. Also, the baby boxes will be installed in several locations around Michigan, and will be regulated and overseen by the Department of Health and Human Services. Lawmakers approved the four-bill package in May, and it now moves forward to the Senate for consideration. We will continue watching this legislation, and will keep you updated when, and if, it is ever signed into law.