Baby Drop Boxes: Even safe haven advocates oppose

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NOTE: The following should not be taken as endorsement or support of safe haven laws. It is a clarification and correction of mis- and dis-information on alleged safe haven advocate support for baby drop boxes.

I will be launching my Stop Baby Drop Boxes webpage after some technical problems are resolved. In the meantime, I want to clear up mis- and dis-information circulated around the Internet–Facebook in particular– by baby boxers about safe haven advocate Tim Jaccard and AMT-Children of Hope’s alleged support for baby drop boxes.

Despite reports from baby boxers, neither Jaccard, founder of AMT-COH (and co-founder and board member of the National Safe Haven Alliance) nor his organization, support the implementation of baby drop boxes. His opposition is colorfully documented in a recent video, published under NSHA and linked in my last blog on baby boxes.

That baby box advocates continue to imply that AMT-COH supports this archaic and draconian practice is politically inept if not stupid. These claims baffle me since Jaccard has been vocal in public and private regarding his opposition. His statements are easy to document. Perhaps baby box leaders equate safe haven advocacy with baby drop box advocacy or believe in Big Lie Theory or are simply disingenuous. Perhaps baby drop box supporters are just incurious and enjoy being spoon-fed happy-dappy propaganda by their leaders as clueless as their followers about the tragic cause and effect of newborn discard. Or that they–leaders and followers alike–are all doing God’s will (an oft voiced belief). Boxers consistently fail to mention that Indiana baby drop boxes, the first two of which opened last month (Woodburn, Michigan City), are legally problematic under current Indiana safe haven law. Nor does the media ask.

Monica Kelsey at baby drop box grand opening in Woodburn,Indiana, April 26, 2016

Monica Kelsey at baby drop box grand opening in Woodburn, Indiana, ,May.

FACT: Indiana’s baby drop boxes– despite the misleading name, “Safe Haven Baby Boxes” are neither supported by safe haven advocates or codified in the state’s safe haven law which requires that infants be turned over to designated authorities by hand, not shoved through an off-site hole in the wall. Indiana’s baby drop boxes are legal only by default. There is no law against them. They do not have the imprimatur of the state which last November declined to support their implementation. Instead, the boxes are a project of the non-profit Safe Haven Baby Boxes operated by anti-abortion evangelical Monica Kelsey and funded by the Knights of Columbus and private donors. The K of C says it will cover the cost of 100 boxes in Indiana to the tune of $1500-$2000 each.. There are serious questions about other costs, safety, and liability. While anyone using a baby drop box to “safely” dispose of a newborn would probably not be charged with neglect of illegal abandonment due to prosecutorial discretion “spirit of the law” use, their utilization is murky legally and morally and full of what-ifs which I’ll discuss in future blogs.

While I continue to oppose safe havens, I believe it is also important to keep the record straight; to not accept or promulgate a false link between safe haveners and baby boxers keen on distorting drop box popularity and acceptance where none exists. With very few exceptions safe haven advocates and organizations oppose boxes. I believe it is quite possible that those of us who oppose safe havens and baby drop boxes and safe haven advocates who oppose boxes could in concert to stop their spread throughout the US.. My caveat is that by fighting boxes, safe haven laws could be strengthened or new and dangerous anonymous birth schemes introduced, such as  Acouchments X in France and similar practices in Europe. Still, Interest in boxes has developed in Illinois and Missouri, where drop box legislation has been introduced; and in Georgia, New York, Ohio, and California where organizations are reportedly pushing drop box plans

“Abstinence educator” and baby box crisis counselor” Pam Stenzel shows us how it works. Woodburn, Indiana April 26,(?), 2016

The baby drop box campaign, with its deeply rooted anti-abortion rhetoric and headed and promoted by evangelicals, various professional “right to life” organizations, and second and third tier anti-aborts and “abstinence educators,” such as Pam Stenzel, has its own agenda, which, purposeful or not, subverts adoptee equality in the name of speculative baby saving. They pimp box dropping (and supposed eventual adoption by “worthy couples”) as a solution to dangerous discard and neonaticide with absolutely no comprehension of why newborn discard occurs or evidence that boxes do what they claim they will.

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Tim Jaccard, AMT-Children of Hope opposes baby drop boxes.

Below are two public statements from the AMT-COH Facebook page posted by Tim Jaccard, that makes the organization and its founder’s opposition quite clear: Stop baby boxes!

Posted by Tim Jaccard, Founder, AMT-Children of Hope, Facebook, February 26, 2015

Once again as always we appreciate your support. My name is Timothy Jaccard and I am the president/director of the NY state Baby Safe Haven program since 1998 and on the board of directors of the National Safe Haven Alliance. Over the years I have assisted many states and organizations with improvements in their safe haven laws. Monica Kelsey, a paramedic with the Fort Wayne, IN fire department is spearheading a campaign to bring awareness about the safe haven program. I have provided her with safe haven materials and assisted her with educational presentations on the safe haven law. However, I am in disagreement and strongly oppose the concept of safe haven boxes and do not support Monica’s efforts on this issue to have them placed in hospitals, fire houses and other locations. I believe that the transfer of an infant to another responsible person is the safest way to protect life. The safe haven program has saved over 2,800 newborn infants since its conception in 1999. Its success is due to the crisis hot lines throughout the country by having contact with birthmothers. Our success is due to the counseling efforts on the crisis hotlines which provide 3 options – a parenting plan, an adoption plan or a relinquishment plan as a last resort. It is this human contact which aids both mother and the infant. The hotlines receive thousands of calls in a year from women asking for help.

Posted by Tim Jaccard, founder, AMT-Children of Hope, Facebook, February 28, 2015

I have been asked to respond to the Indiana Safe haven drop boxes and the concerns that I have on the use of the boxes.

First, if an infant is placed in the drop off box and the door does not close all the way because of something like fabric not being fully tucked in and the instance of cd weather conditions, within 2 minutes hypothermia would set in.

Secondly, the leaving of the infant unattended would increase the liability of the hospitals, fire stations and Safehaven locations in the event that an injury or catastrophic death occurs.

Third, There will be an impact on the residents of Indiana also will have to cover the financial burden of the attack of the insurance increases on these liabilities the crisis centers that are operating now, as they will have to also ensure themselves to protect them when they are informed to bring a baby to a box in the hospital or firehouse.

SafeHaven was established to ensure the safety and well being of infants, as well as protect their parents. The increased risk to the child and potential criminal charges that could be brought against a birth parent who leaves a child in this manner, who is hurt or dies as the result of an unattended this mission.

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Baby drop boxes are the natural outgrowth of the safe haven movement which has normalized legal newborn abandonment. in the United States. Ironically safe haven advocates find themselves in the same position that safe haven opponents were (and are still) 15 years ago: ignored by legislators, ridiculed, and accused of some perverse desire to litter the highways, garbage cans, and back alleys of America with the bodies of dead babies. I feel their pain!

I continue to oppose safe haven laws and use. That said… Tim Jaccard and I have had many differences in the last 15 years over safe haven laws and their implementation, and will continue to argue, but baby drop boxing isn’t one of those disagreements.

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