Speaking of babydrop boxes, the long awaited baby box bill, SB 3271, has been dropped in the Illinois Senate. The bill won’t legislate baby boxes or determine specs, but it would basicaly set up a study group to investigate the feasibility of boxes–hygienically referred to as “newborn safety incubators”– in Illinois. It’s attached to a short bill to amend the state’s safe haven law.
I’m not commenting much on the other parts of the bill, though I do think it would be a good idea for the state to actually track safe haven cases—not just numbers but details. Creating more drop-off locations, though, needs to be taken off the table. A little while ago it was suggested in one state that convenience stores be designated baby dump stations!
Here’s the bill summary from the Illinois legislative page. I’ve marked the offending section.
Amends the Abandoned Newborn Infant Protection Act. Requires the Department of Children and Family Services to conduct a review of the impact and effectiveness of the policy objectives established under the Act for the years 2001 through 2016 and to submit a report of its findings and recommendations to the Governor and the General Assembly by July 1, 2017. Provides that the report shall contain certain information, including: (i) the number of newborn infants abandoned during the review period; (ii) the number of newborn infants relinquished in accordance with the procedures outlined in the Act during the review period; (iii) a determination of whether a need exists to expand the list of facilities and personnel who are authorized to accept a relinquished newborn infant; and (iv) an analysis of the advantages and disadvantages of implementing and installing newborn safety incubators. Effective July 1, 2016.
Specifically, the bill reads:
|(7) An analysis of the advantages and disadvantages of|
|17||implementing and installing newborn safety incubators.|
|18||This analysis shall include, but not be limited to, the|
|20||(i) An evaluation of any safety issues associated|
|21||with the use of newborn safety incubators.|
|22||(ii) The cost of purchasing and installing newborn|
|23||safety incubators, including the potential cost of|
|24||retrofitting existing buildings to accommodate a|
|25||newborn safety incubator.|
|26||(iii) The identification of appropriate locations|
|1||for newborn safety incubators.|
|2||(iv) The identification of potential funding|
|3||sources for the purchase and installation of newborn|
|5||As used in this Section, “newborn safety incubator”|
|6||means a device that is designed to permit: (i) a person to|
|7||anonymously place a newborn infant in the device with the|
|8||intent to leave the infant; and (ii) another person to|
|9||remove the newborn infant from the device and take custody|
|10||of the infant.|
I knew several months ago that this bill was pending. Reportedly the baby box part was generated by Monica’s Minions– Illinois Division, (officially known as Safe Haven Baby Boxes of Illinois) and is included in the bill as a sop to them. I find it difficult to believe that the Illinois legislature would take baby drop boxes seriously, especially since Dawn Geras, founder of the state’s privately-run safe haven advocacy organization Save Abandoned Babies Foundation, has been very vocal in opposing boxes. She will undoubtedly be walking the halls on this one.
It will be interesting to see what Rep. Sara Feigenholtz does with SB 3271, especially if it lands in her Adoption Reform Committee on the House side. Illinois could be where the rubber meets the road and baby boxes run out on a rail. The bill was only introduced on February 19 and is currently in the Senate Assignments Committee.