Commission doesn’t recommend incubators for abandoned babies

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — An Indiana state commission has decided not to recommend the use of safety incubators for newborns abandoned by their parents after the state was poised earlier this year to permit them.

The Commission on Improving the Status of Children in Indiana studied the issue at the request of lawmakers and announced their unanimous decision Wednesday. The padded and heated incubators, or “baby boxes,” temporarily shelter babies and immediately notify emergency personnel.

The commission made their decision amid concerns about cost and potential liability, The Indianapolis Star reports. Members voted instead to focus on better educating people on the state’s existing Safe Haven law, which allows someone to give up an infant anonymously at emergency rooms, fire stations or police stations.

Since the law was passed 14 years ago, 28 babies have been surrendered under the process, according to the Indiana Department of Child Services.

Legislation on the incubators had stalled, with some concerned it might cause more babies to be abandoned. Advocates say the boxes would let parents give up infants without speaking to anyone, and deter them from leaving newborns elsewhere.

Monica Kelsey, president and founder of Safe Haven Baby Boxes, said the commission misunderstood legislation sought by her and others. She said her nonprofit doesn’t need authorization from the state, and wasn’t looking for state funds.

A bill sought by Kelsey and others would authorize the state Department of Health to develop standards for 18 months before incubators are installed. It would also give immunity to those housing incubators.

Kelsey said 18 locations want the incubators now. She said advocates are “not going away.”

“This was never about passing a law, passing a bill,” Kelsey said. “This was always about saving abandoned babies.”

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Information from: The Indianapolis Star, http://www.indystar.com

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