Advocate suggests "Baby Box" addition to WI Safe Haven Law
Story By Georgina Fernandez
Local News Published 01/13/2021 6:53PM, Last Updated 01/13/2021 7:04PM
Wisconsin - 16-year-old Logan Kruckenberg-Anderson from Albany, Wisconsin is currently facing homicide charges after being accused of killing his newborn baby. However, local advocate, Monica Kelsey, fears that this story might not be the last if action is not taken.
For Kelsey, the story about abandonment has been one she has been familiar with for years.
"I'd have to take you back all the way to 1973 when a young 17-year-old girl was brutally attacked and raped and left on the side of the road," Kelsey said.
At 37, Kelsey met her birth mother and was told a story that was meant to be kept a secret.
"This 17-year-old girl was hidden for the remainder of her pregnancy and then gave birth in April of 1973," Kelsey said. " And that child was me."
Kelsey was abandoned just two hours after being born. It's that story that led her to create the organization "Safe Haven Baby Boxes" with the hopes that every mother can have an anonymous way of surrendering a child.
"The safe-haven baby boxes takes the safe haven law one step further," Kelsey said.
Currently, under Wisconsin, Safe Haven Law people can surrender a baby under 72 hours old to police, hospital workers, or 911 emergency medical staff person. However, for babies over three days old, individuals dropping off the child will have to provide their name and address.
"That doesn't give 100 % anonymity," Kelsey said. "It gives confidentiality but doesn't give anonymity."
Which Kelsey says, is key.
According to the Criminal Complain in Kruckenberg-Anderson's case, he understood Wisconsin Safe Haven laws. In the Criminal Complain, he states that the baby's mother and he had discussed dropping off the baby at a fire department or going to Madison to drop the baby off at an adoption center. However, it was not enough according to Kelsey.
"Look how small this community is, where he is from," Kelsey said. "Everyone knows everyone in small communities. This is another reason why anonymity is so important because these kids don't want their parents finding out that they just gave birth to a child. Instead of doing the right thing, obviously, this kid did the wrong thing. And killed his child."
Meaning the box could make a serious impact just as it has in other states like Indiana. In the last two years, Indiana has received 10 babies surrendered within the boxes.
"The best part about that is, we haven't had a dead baby in our state," Kelsey said. "Before we launched Baby Box in the state of Indiana we were having anywhere between two to three babies left dead in our state every single year."
According to Safe Haven Baby Box, they could have saved 5 lives in Wisconsin, since 2018. The idea of adding Safe Haven Baby Boxes was introduced, however, before to the state. In 2019 Republican State Senator Dale Kooyenga announced he was going to propose a bill called, "Safe Haven Baby Box" after a baby was found in the Marshville Hospital parking lot. But the bill was never brought to the floor. That same legislative year Senate Bill "59 AB 56" the "Infant Mortality Program" was partially vetoed by the governor in the state's budget.
NewsWatch 12 reached out to Senator Dale Kooyenga for a statement of why the bill was not forwarded, however, they did not provide the station with a response. However, State Representatives did note that this bill is currently being discussed being revisited this year.