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Three babies left in Alabama’s Safe Haven Baby Boxes

In a state without abortion, Safe Haven Baby Boxes provide mothers with an alternative choice.

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In January, Alabama unveiled its first Safe Haven baby box in Madison County’s Madison Fire and Rescue Department. As of Monday, three infants have been placed in its baby box. Of the four baby boxes around the state, the one in Madison has been the only one to be utilized.

The baby boxes are a physical symbol of a state’s Safe Haven laws and provide the opportunity to educate a community about the options available to them, compared to the already existing facilities where mothers are permitted to surrender their babies. All states have Safe Haven laws. Currently, 20 states have Safe Haven laws permitting the use of baby boxes, and 15 of those have baby boxes in use.

In 2023, Alabama expanded its Safe Haven Law to include baby boxes installed on exterior walls of hospitals and at local fire stations that are equipped with emergency personnel on-site 24/7. Once the baby is placed inside the baby box, an alarm inside will alert medics on site. Locations in Alabama are required to install a camera inside the baby box.

Once a baby is surrendered, medics will do an initial examination before transferring the infant to a local hospital for further treatment. Here, the Alabama Department of Human Resources will then place the baby under the care of child protective services.

The initial fee for a baby box in Alabama is $15,500 with an annual recertification and upkeep fee of $500. Other fees can range from $5,000 to $7,000 for delivery and transportation, electrical and alarm installation and alarm services.

The baby boxes give mothers unable to care for the infant a chance to anonymously surrender their babies within 45 days of birth. Before baby boxes were brought to Alabama, mothers had to hand over their babies face-to-face to hospital personnel at an emergency room. With in-person interactions between mothers and staff came much scrutiny for mothers attempting to choose the best foreseeable path for their children.

States surrounding Alabama provide their residents with more locations to surrender babies like licensed adoption agencies and police departments. The window of time for surrendering a baby fluctuates as well. 

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In a state that wasted no time to ban abortion statewide, having a way for mothers to make some kind of decision about keeping their baby is helpful. Especially in this specific manner that eliminates the fear of recognition, and alleviates the stigma associated with surrender and persecution as a result of a lack of understanding regarding Safe Haven laws.

Mary Claire is a reporting intern.

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