Fort Lauderdale, Fla. On the side of the road.
But a conflict is brewing between the two in the Florida Senate. An existing state law, sponsored and promoted by Miami-based A Safe Haven, allows parents to anonymously surrender newborns to firefighters and hospital staff. A new bill sponsored by Indiana-based Safe Haven Baby Box gives fire stations and hospitals the option to install team ventilation and climate-controlled boxes, where parents can drop off their babies without coming into contact with fire or hospital staff.
The bill recently passed the Florida House unanimously, but there is a long-running effort to block it in the Senate, which could be considered this week. Opponents call the boxes expensive, unnecessary and dangerous to babies, mothers, firefighters and hospital workers. Each side blames the other for financial reasons.
Because the fight is getting more attention. Republican Governor Ron DeSantis And Florida’s GOP-dominated legislature It is expected that abortion will be banned soon It’s done more than six weeks after conception, which lowers the state’s current limit of 15 weeks.
Similar baby box bills were recently passed by lawmakers in Kansas, Montana and Mississippi and sent to those states’ governors. West Virginia Legislature They are also considering such an account. The boxes are already allowed in nine states, mostly in the Midwest and South, with the largest numbers in Indiana, Arkansas and Kentucky, respectively. In the year Since its inception in 2016, about 145 boxes have been installed, with 25 newborns given away, Safe Haven Baby Box said.
Only one baby remains in Florida’s only casket, installed two years ago by a Central Florida firehouse without a state permit. The boxes are opened outside the building, allowing the parents to put the baby in the bathtub in a bag containing the instructions and the mother’s medical advice. When the door is closed, it locks and the agency is notified electronically. Safe Haven Baby Boxes says its average response time is two minutes.
“It’s just giving women an option, an option. Why do[protesters]want to take that away from women? The group’s founder, firefighter Monica Kelce, was abandoned as a newborn and is an outspoken opponent of abortion. She sued Safe Space for Newborns. It’s something the team denies, fearing a loss of aid if the boxes are loaded.
Republican Representative Jennifer Canady, the bill’s lead sponsor, declined an interview request. She said in a statement that the proposed legislation “is an important next step in providing life-saving and life-preserving options at all levels.”
Joel Gordon Kelsey, a spokesman for Safe Place for Babies and the deputy chief of the Fort Lauderdale Fire Department in suburban Fort Lauderdale, said he would likely make a profit from the boxes. She denies this. Her group gets mixed reviews from organizations that regulate charities.
Gordon also opposed all the reforms that the bill’s supporters say would make the boxes safer and make the program more effective. Safe Haven trains fire departments and hospitals on how to implement the current law.
“It’s not about giving the mother as much power as possible to save and save these babies. It’s about the box itself, and the way the box is managed,” Gordon said.
“We can do better than putting kids in boxes,” added Senate Democratic Leader Lauren Book, who led opponents of the bill. The security law we currently have on the books is working.
In the year In 2000, Florida became one of the first states to allow babies in hospitals and funeral homes to be put up for adoption. Under it, parents can give newborn babies up to 7 days without any questions, assuming there is no evidence of neglect or abuse. Since its enactment, 370 newborns have been legally adopted, Gordon said.
The new bill would allow, but not require, fire departments and hospitals to buy the boxes, which would be leased from Kelsey’s group. They cost about $16,000 to install and there is an annual maintenance and inspection fee of $300, which goes to Kelsey’s charity. Sometimes the implants and the fees are paid for by donors, she said.
“Wasn’t that baby (in Central Florida) worth our fight to keep that box?” She said. “I think it was.”
Gordon said that as of 2018, only five children had been illegally abandoned in Florida, and that number had been zero in recent years. A surrendered baby’s mother benefits more from direct contact with a firefighter or hospital worker, who can assess whether she needs medical and psychological care. Such contact, he said, gives her confidence that her child is safe.
Gordon said Kelsey’s crates don’t meet Florida’s public building safety standards and allow people who abuse or kidnap newborns or regularly hold the baby a way to escape detection. Gordon and Buck also give the boxes a place for terrorists to plant a bomb or toxin, putting firefighters and hospital workers at risk — something Kelsey says never happened.
“Until he does,” Buck replied. “I want to make sure that the people who are there to protect and serve our community are safe.”
book, He was recently arrested for trespassing He said the boxing bill is part of a broader effort by DeSantis and the Legislature’s majority to encourage conservative Christian morality by all Floridians, regardless of their personal beliefs.
“You can’t just look at this one policy. You have to look at the totality of what’s going on, and I’m not just standing up for it,” Book said.
Kelsey accused protesters of “grasping at straws.” While abusers should be identified and monitored, it is best for the children if their parents leave them before the abuse leads to serious injury or death, she said.
If approved, the bill would take effect on July 1.