Proposal would create 'baby boxes' in Wisconsin where newborns could safely be abandoned

Safe Haven Baby Box WSPT Via CNN.jpg

MADISON, Wis. - Newborn safety boxes would be installed at medical centers and law enforcement agencies in Wisconsin, under a new proposal at the state Capitol.

Sen. Dale Kooyenga is drafting a bill, along with first responders and hospitals, that would provide resources to parents in Wisconsin who wish to safely surrender a newborn baby.

"If we want to protect the newborn child in this last resort situation, we must provide a safer way for parents to surrender the baby without fear of criminal prosecution," Kooyenga, a Republican from Brookfield, said in a news release.

Wisconsin's "Save Haven" law allows parents to anonymously surrender a child within 72 hours of birth without facing criminal prosecution.

Kooyenga is proposing that baby boxes be placed at places where the state's Safe Haven law applies. The boxes would be equipped with heating, cooling and a silent alarm that notifies emergency personnel within 30 seconds of a baby being placed inside the box.

Baby boxes have already been installed in Indiana, Ohio and Arizona, according to Kooyenga's office.

Kooyenga said the legislation is inspired by an incident that happened last week in Wood County where deputies and Marshfield police officers found an abandoned vehicle in a medical center's parking lot. Authorities said a baby boy was found wrapped in a bath towel in a tied plastic garbage bag inside the vehicle.

The baby was rushed inside to the emergency department of the medical center and was temporarily revived by staff, but he later succumbed to his injuries and died, the sheriff's office said.

"This was a horrific scene that could have been avoided," Kooyenga said in a news release.