Safe Haven Baby boxes; protecting babies from unsafe abandonment


SPRINGDALE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — Right now, Arkansas is home to a total of five safe haven baby boxes and a sixth one is on its way, providing a last resort to mothers in crisis. A local organization says it’s important to bring awareness to this safety device.

One of the locations in NWA is at the Springdale Fire Station #6. NWA Respect Life hosted the unveiling here earlier this year. The organization tells us the safe haven baby box is a resource that everyone can get behind because it’s about protecting the lives of newborns.

The state’s safe haven law allows a mother in crisis to surrender their baby to a hospital, police or fire department employee for example without facing criminal charges.

Director Sheila Pursell says the advantage of the baby box is a mother can do it anonymously, there are no questions asked and the life of a baby is saved.

“There are pro-choice and pro-life people who support the safe haven baby box because no one wants to see an abandoned baby in the bottom of a dumpster. No one wants to see that, so this is something that can get hold heartily support from our community,” said Pursell.

You place the baby in the box and a silent alarm goes off and then a fireman on the other side will take the baby within 4 minutes of being placed. The alarm is silent to not scare the mother away and also give her time to safely place the baby inside before going her way.

That baby is taken to a hospital and eventually put up for adoption.

Pursell says there is no name, no shame and no blame using the safe haven baby box.

“A lot of times when the babies are rescued they still have their umbilical cords attached, I mean they are brand new babies and here in Arkansas babies are from birth to 30 days that can be placed safely,” said Pursell.

The box has a three-alarm system, is temperature-controlled and air controlled. It also has a hospital-grade bassinet inside.

The last time a baby was surrendered using the baby box was last May, in Benton. It was a baby boy. Pursell says it wasn’t long before he was found a loving family.

NWA respect life also works to serve mothers during pregnancy and childbirth, connecting them to pregnancy care centers, housing, clothing and other resources they may need.

Fort Smith is the next city in line to get a baby box making it the sixth location in the state. Pursell says it should be installed by the end of the year.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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