Voluntary Donations v Public Funding: Ohio politician thinks taxpayers should pay for privately funded Safe Haven Baby Boxes


One of the selling points for getting a town to install a Safe Haven Baby Box has been the claim that the cost of the box will not come out of taxpayer pockets. It’s all private voluntary contributions from the community.

That’s not what one Ohio politician, however, has in mind. According to the September 19,  Dayton Daily News, Lebanon, Ohio  City Council member, local attorney, and forced-birth advocate* Adam Matthews says he plans to propose that the Lebanon City Council foot the bill for a box. He wants to add the $16,000 cost of the box and the $300/year maintenance fee to the city budget.

Ohio cities already host 4 boxes (Defiance, Hicksville, Sunbury, Van Wert with another one  proposed in New Delhi Township near Cincinnati) and none of those towns reported spending public money on their boxes. In fact,  BST&G Fire District officials in Sunbury were clear that its then-proposed baby box was off the table unless enough funds to lease, install, and maintain it could be raised through private donors and grants.

The first box in Ohio was installed in 2018, but none have been used.

Contrary to Safe Haven Baby Boxes, Inc’s propaganda, Ohio does not suffer an epidemic of newborn discard. According to the organization’s published count, 2  discarded newborn cases have been reported this year. The SHBB research team I work with, found a different story. Of the two cases we believe SHBB, Inc claims (their claim isn’t documented in their propaganda, so we have to guess) one, was a discarded 23-27 week fetus discovered in a wastebasket at a motel in Monroe (near Lebanon). This occurred in 2020, but the toxicology report wasn’t issued until this year.  A woman, who self-aborted with an ulcer drug,  was charged with gross abuse of a corpse–a fifth-degree felony.  No doubt this case will be used to push through Lebanon’s authorization. The other case involved the discovery of the remains of a newborn found inside a shoebox in a closet at a home in Euclid. Investigators believe the remains had been there for about four years. (Links to these cases are at the bottom of this blog).

Unless SHBB, Inc. has some super-secret discard discovery device, this means that there are no reported discard cases in 2021 that fall under Safe Haven protocols. And really odd, the SHBB, Inc. Facebook page, which features news reports on discard cases nationally and internationally, lists no reports from Ohio this year.  Unsolicited advice to SHBB, Inc: If you claim X number of discards then link your claim to documents.

If the Lebanon proposal goes through, it will not be the first time taxpayers have been stiffed with a SHBB, Inc invoice. According to news reports, the following Indiana jurisdictions donated public funds for boxes:

  • Fortville: Vernon Township donated $8,000 for a box located at Fire Station #3. Box opened October 21, 2019
  • Franklin: The Franklin Township Trustees Office fully funded a box ($15,000) located at Fire Station #22, although funds had also been raised previously by local students.  The trustees’ donation came from extra funds earned by the township for helping the state process applications for its Covid-19 rental assistance program. (Half of the money generated by the assistance program.) Trustees presented the check to the student effort on the condition that the students “stay in touch with the trustees’ office after graduation.”  Surplus funds were re-allocated reportedly to pay for dumpster stickers, SHBB, Inc “educational material” that would be furnished to “crisis pregnancy centers,” and to finance a proposed  SHBB, Inc campaign in Edinburgh. Box opened May 18, 2021.
  • Lowell:  Eagle Township, West Creek Township, and Cedar Creek Township partially funded a box located at the Lowell Volunteer Fire Station. ((No amount listed). Box opened September 17, 2020
  • Schererville: The Town of Schererville donated $2,500 for a box located at Schererville Fire Station #2. A total of $23,000 was raised and excess funds would reportedly be used for future maintenance and upkeep for years to come.  Box opened May 4, 2021.

And this interesting note from Rogers, Arkansas. The Re-election Campaign for State Senator Cecile Bledsoe, sponsor of that state’s SHBB law, donated $10,000 from its surplus funds account for a box located at Rogers Fire Station #5. Box opened March 12, 2021

Not exactly a voluntary donation from voters who gave their money to a politician for her re-election, not her pet project.

Other taxpayer-funded Safe Haven Baby Boxes, may be installed or proposed, but these are only media reports I have on file.

This volunteer donor market could run in to a snag if by some wet fever dream, Safe Haven Baby Boxes became mandatory equipment for publicly-funded safety services. New Jersey legislators for the last few sessions have introduced bills to require all new fire, police, and hospitals to install and maintain baby boxes.  (Latest bill: A3378). These bills have never gotten a hearing but someday they might. Then what? If passed, taxpayers would automatically ante up the cost of what is sold currently to politicians and the public as a freebie community service.

From the beginning, voluntary community fundraising has been a SHBB, Inc. strategy to introduce its ‘mission” of amateur “baby-saving” through the normalization of baby boxing and to soften resistance to what until the organization came along was considered by most Americans as a long-gone medieval practice. Voluntary donation was basically a method to design community ownership of the box(es) through the creation of a joint fundraising venture between SHBB, Inc and local churches, businesses and individuals. with  financial and in-kind support.  (In many locations, contracting, installation, security, and landscaping services are donated at cost or fully by local businesses.)

SHBB, Inc, defines itself as a “pro-life ministry” and is convinced that Roe will soon be overturned and thrown back to the states– or at least highly restricted laws like the Texas snitch/abortion ban will be enacted..  Consequently, the organization believes that a lack of safe and legal aboveground abortion services will force women to maintain hidden pregnancies and then dangerously discard their “unwanted babies” unless they are offered alternatives such as their Safe Haven Baby Boxes. SHBB, Inc proclaims that their boxes “empower women” and take the stigma out of child abandonment  (that’s considered good?) yet simultaneously sends the message that women in unplanned or unwanted pregnancies carry shame that can be assuaged through anonymous box abandonment and all that abandonment entails:  probable lack of pre- and post-natal care; psychological damage to mother and child; and the continuation or even worstening of the problems and situations such as domestic violence, poverty, Dragonian US immigration policy, and mental health issues, that cause mothers to abandon newborns in the first place.

Taxpayers should not be supporting this despicable scheme.

*Ohio article citations




*Earlier this year Lebanon passed a law that declared that town of 20,000 a “sanctuary city for the unborn.” The ordinance makes it unlawful to supply an abortion, support an abortion, give money or transportation for an abortion and give directions for an abortion in Lebanon. The town has no abortion clinics and there were no plans to open one.— Cincinnati Enquirer, August 31, 2021


Thanks to the Stop Safe Haven Baby Boxes Truth team for input!

(Drafted during Shut Up and Write, September 22-29, 2021)



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