A Texas hospital is expected to open the state’s first Safe Haven Baby Box, where at-risk mothers can safely and anonymously surrender their newborns without legal repercussions.
Coryell Health hospital in Gatesville, which is about two hours from Austin, will be the home of the Safe Haven box, the Beaumont Enterprise reported this week. Dr. Jeff Bates, founder of a nonprofit called “The Lords Work,” raised $7,500 for the project and hopes the box will be open by December.
”The woman can walk away and abandon her baby without prosecution and the baby will be safer,” said Bates, who is also the chief medical officer at Coryell Health. ”My hope is that no one ever has to put a baby in this box. I hope that people will see the box and begin to talk about this issue in the community.”
Bates kicked off the effort after Texas expanded its “Moses Law” in September to allow anyone to surrender their babies in baby boxes at hospitals, and fire and police stations across the state.
“The state law, which has been around since 1999, has always allowed parents to surrender babies at these locations, but the new change permits the baby boxes,” KWTX reported in October.
Baby boxes were created to deter parents from abandoning their newborns, potentially leaving them to die. Baby boxes are temperature-controlled incubators that are often built into outside exterior walls of fire stations, police stations, and hospitals and can be accessed from inside. At-risk mothers can safely and legally place their babies inside, often up to 90 days old. Then, the outside door locks, and mothers have time to get away before an alarm goes off alerting first responders or hospital staff inside.
The baby is then quickly removed and sent to a hospital for a wellness check. From there the baby is usually placed into state custody and often quickly adopted. At the Texas location, a baby would be taken to McLane Children’s Hospital in Temple and later handed over to child protective services, according to the report.
Thirteen other states across the United States also have Safe Haven baby boxes.