State Rep. Donna Givens (R-Loxley) is celebrating the final passage of a bill allowing fire stations and medical centers to install "baby boxes" for mothers to surrender children within 45 days.
Under the current law, infants can only be surrendered within 72 hours of birth at hospitals.
House Bill 473 (HB473) extends that period to 45 days and enables fire stations to accept surrendered newborns if staffed by emergency medical personnel around the clock.
HB473permits the installation of "baby boxes" at hospitals and fire stations, enabling parents to anonymously surrender infants. Boaby boxes are wired directly to 911 to prevent infants from prolonged exposure. Law enforcement will also investigate if the child is a missing person.
"As a pro-life Christian, this bill is an extension of my belief that every child's life is absolutely sacred and must be protected," Givens said. "We want mothers and fathers who are unable to care for their babies to have safer, more compassionate options to leave infants where they can receive care before going to loving homes. I am particularly thankful to the Department of Human Resources for offering valuable insight and feedback throughout the legislative process."
She continued, "I am hopeful that any parent considering giving up a child will go to a baby box and leave the baby inside instead of abandoning the child somewhere dangerous. We have to do everything we can to prevent harm to these babies."
The Alabama Department of Human Resources (DHR) approved and worked on the legislation.
"Without a doubt, this bill will reduce the risk of harm to infants by giving parents more choices and more time to surrender newborns safely in times of crisis," said DHR commissioner Nancy Buckner. "Representative Givens has done a tremendous service for our youngest Alabamians by sponsoring this important legislation and carrying it across the finish line. We thank Representative Givens for her insight and passion for these vulnerable babies."
An unknown donor has reportedly pledged funding for the first 10 baby boxes at fire stations near colleges in Baldwin County, Mobile, Auburn, Huntsville, Tuscaloosa, the Muscle Shoals area, Dothan, Anniston and Montgomery.
HB473 was one of many bills addressing newborn care in this legislative session since it was the first since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe V. Wade and Alabama's abortion clinics shut down.
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