A measure that would increase the number of days a parent has to surrender an infant without a face-to-face contact with anyone from the authorized surrender agency has been passed by the Florida Senate’s Appropriations Subcommittee on Health and Human Services by a 7-4 vote. The legislation would also allow authorized sites to install so-called “baby boxes” to facilitate the surrenders.
Introduced by Sens Dennis Baxley (R-Ocala) and co-sponsors Ileana Garcia, ( R-Miami). Ben Albritton (R-Bartow) and Gayle Harrell (R-Stuart), SB 122 would allow parents to surrender their babies to authorized agencies up to 30 days after the child is born.
Under current law, babies that are 7 days old or younger may be surrendered anonymously.
The measure also allows hospitals, fire stations or emergency medical services stations to install “baby boxes” to accept the infants. An alarm system would alert facility personnel that a child had been placed in the box. The measure also requires agency personnel to physically check the box every 12 hours, and to test the alarm system weekly.
SB 122 expands the Florida’s Safe Haven Law that allows parents to surrender babies without facing criminal prosecution.
According to the Miami-based non-profit Safe Haven for Newborns, more than 320 newborns have been surrendered in Florida since the Safe Haven Law was enacted in 2000.
SB 122 is pending a full House vote.