San Antonio plans to take advantage of expanded Safe Haven law

Birth parents will be able to surrender newborns in special, alarmed boxes at fire stations

SAN ANTONIO – The City of San Antonio plans to take advantage of a change to state law that will allow parents to surrender their newborn babies in special, alarmed boxes at fire stations and other designated spots.

The state’s Safe Haven law, also known as the Baby Moses law, was first passed in 1999. It allows parents who are unable to care for their children to legally and safely surrender them up until they are 60 days old by handing them over at designated safe places, like hospitals and fire stations.

However, the birth parent had to physically give the baby over to someone at those locations. They could not simply leave the child outside, which is against the law.

San Antonio police and Crime Stoppers, for example, are still looking for two people they say left a baby outside of a Northwest Side church in July in triple-digit heat. Churches are not covered under the Safe Haven law.

READ MORE: Where can you safely surrender a baby? Recent San Antonio incident shows need for more education

San Antonio District 9 City Councilman John Courage said not every birth parent, such as a teenage mother, might be able to make that face-to-face handoff.

“What kind of fear would she feel? What kind of humiliation might she feel in doing something like that?” he said.

Courage has advocated for a more anonymous method for those parents to surrender their children, which the state legislature just authorized in the past session.

Starting Sep. 1, birth parents will also be able to surrender their child at designated safe spots that have special “Baby Boxes” on site. The boxes, rigged with alarms to alert medical professionals, would allow the birth parents to leave a child safely without face-to-face interaction.

The City of San Antonio’s proposed budget for FY 2024 includes $438,000 to install 12 of the boxes at San Antonio fire stations in what Courage called a “ring of safety.”

According to the budget document, SAFD is currently researching how other cities have implemented the installation of these boxes.

About the Authors

Garrett Brnger is a reporter with KSAT 12.

Before starting at KSAT in August 2011, Ken was a news photographer at KENS. Before that he was a news photographer at KVDA TV in San Antonio. Ken graduated from San Antonio College with an associate's degree in Radio, TV and Film. Ken has won a Sun Coast Emmy and four Lone Star Emmys. Ken has been in the TV industry since 1994.

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