Indiana may allow ‘baby boxes’ for surrendering newborns

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INDIANAPOLIS — A 2-foot-long metal box could become Indiana’s newest weapon in its efforts to save babies from abandonment and death.

Legislation approved by the state House of Representatives would allow hospitals, police and fire stations, churches and select nonprofits to install incubators, or baby boxes, in which parents could surrender their newborns anonymously.

The concept dates to “foundling wheels” used in medieval times. Baby boxes are used in Europe and China under several names.

Supporters say they can prevent infanticide and could supplement U.S. safe haven laws that allow people to surrender infants at designated sites without risking prosecution so long as the child isn’t harmed.

Critics say the boxes don’t address the issues that contribute to abandonment and urge states to do more to promote existing laws.