Diana Finegan: Baby boxes like ‘dropping off a urine sample’

diana baby box this one
'I think putting a baby in a box is completely unethical.'

Diana Finegan made her position clear.

The subject was Safe Haven baby boxes at Citrus County fire stations, places where desperate mothers leave their newborns for adoption without fear of being arrested for abandonment.

Commissioner Ruthie Davis Schlabach brought the measure to the County Commission. She said private donations will pay for the boxes.

“I think this is a no-brainer,” Schlabach said. “If it can save one baby’s life, it is well worth it.”

Fellow Commissioner Finegan didn’t see it that way.

“I think putting a baby in a box is completely unethical,” Finegan said. “To me, it’s a little disgusting. It’s like dropping off a urine sample.”

Florida’s Safe Haven law allows parents of unharmed newborns to leave them at fire stations, hospitals or EMS stations without fear of prosecution.

The Safe Haven Baby Box concept started in Indiana and has spread to 14 states across the country.

Crystal River resident Falon Hallstern told Commissioners that Marion and Alachua counties recently installed Safe Haven baby boxes at fire stations. She said private donations cover the costs.

Hallstern said baby boxes provide a chance for parents to make the right decision regarding their infants, without having to literally hand their baby to another person.

“This box allows you to put the baby in anonymously,” she said. “I would imagine it would be the hardest decision of your life.”

Finegan saw nothing but red flags.

She said the county is liable should anything go wrong. “It’s checked, until it fails,” she said.

Finegan said the county promoting a baby box will encourage mothers to abandon their babies.

“Are we really advertising and advocating putting a baby in a box?” she asked. “A baby is always much safer in the hands of a human being.”

She added: “It’s a very small box, I assume meant for a newborn. What else goes in the box? Toddlers? Animals?”

The board voted 4-1 for the boxes. Citrus Fire Chief Craig Stevens said the county may need an ordinance, since the Safe Haven law does not specifically provide for baby boxes at fire stations.

Mike Wright

Mike Wright is a former reporter with the Citrus County Chronicle, where he had covered county government and politics since 1987. Mike's skills as an investigative reporter earned him first-place awards in investigative writing. Mike also helped the Chronicle win the Frances Devore Award for Public Service in 2002.


  • Melissa Verdi- Jenkins

    February 7, 2024 at 8:10 pm

    I would rather have these babies put in a safe haven box rather than left on the street to die. My boyfriend and I are not able to have our own children, and would love to adopt someone’s child if they couldn’t do so.

  • Tim Marden

    February 8, 2024 at 9:16 am

    We just installed the second one in the State of Florida at our fire station in the City Newberry Florida. An hour from Citrus County where I grew up. This concept hinges on anonymity and babies are, on average, in the box for less than two minutes. This is no way encourages child abandonment. The first box in Ocala was unused for the first 14 months.

    I think some of Finegan’s comments come from lack of understanding, that is all.

    Tim Marden
    City Commissioner
    Newberry Florida

  • Dont Say FLA

    February 12, 2024 at 3:39 pm

    The first place babies go after they drop out their mama and get their slime all hosed off and get a quick smooch from that mama is directly into a baby box at the maternity ward, where they remain for hours at a time.

    A couple minutes in one of those boxes isn’t going to hurt any baby, especially considering the alternative is a dumpster or a storm drain or the Atlantic Ocean or the Gulf of Mexico or an alligator or python or panther after State of Florida forces someone to give birth to a baby they do not want or, more likely, just cannot have.

  • Finegan's Faux Pas

    February 12, 2024 at 3:45 pm

    Finegan might be less bothered by baby rescue boxes if there were two boxes at each drop off location.

    One box for white babies. The other box for coloreds.

Comments are closed.


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