Hughes bill improving safety, availability of ‘baby boxes’ passes in Texas senate
AUSTIN, Texas (KLTV) - A bill intended to increase the number of safe places to surrender infants passed the Texas senate unanimously on Thursday.
The bill passed with a vote of 30 ayes to 0 nays.
Senate Bill 780 seeks to expand the Texas “Baby Moses” law that states a parent can give up a newborn to certain medical facilities.
The bill was created to improve the ability of parents to give up a child safely and anonymously. The bill’s author Sen. Bryan Hughes (R-Mineola) hopes these improvements will prevent infants from being abandoned in dangerous ways or in dangerous places, unable to receive the proper care.
The bill adds fire departments and law enforcement agencies to the list of acceptable locations for an newborn to be given up at. This list also includes hospitals and emergency medical service providers.
The updated bill allows these locations to optionally install a ‘newborn safety device’ where the infant can be placed for workers to retrieve. This is in addition to the parent physically handing off the child to an employee of the facility.
The device would have to be a controlled environment that meets numerous health and safety standards, must be physically located inside the facility, must be staffed 24/7, must be in an area visible to the employees, and contains an alarm that would sound when a child is placed inside of the device. In addition the facility must regularly test the alarm to ensure that it is working.
Senate Bill 780 will go into effect September 1, 2023.
Now that the senate bill has passed its companion bill, House Bill 2010, sponsored by Rep. Cole Hefner (R-Mount Pleasant) must make its way through the Texas House. It has not gone to committee yet but is assigned to the committee on human services.
In 1999 Texas became the first state to pass a “Safe Haven” law, and Texas still leads the country in infant abandonment rates.
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