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An option for women who don't have an option: More safe haven baby boxes coming to northwest Ohio

The Defiance Fire Department has one for anonymous use. And one is coming to the Springfield Township Fire Department if enough funds are raised.

SPRINGFIELD, Ohio — As the overturning of Roe v. Wade continues to impact women, some first responders are highlighting a growing resource for those who may want to surrender a newborn.

The Ohio Safe Haven Law allows parents to safely surrender their newborn child without fear of judgment or prosecution. That law includes police stations, fire stations and hospitals.

For the past three years, a Safe Haven Baby Box has been attached to the Defiance Fire Department. The box sits on the side entrance to the department and has no security cameras nearby. This allows someone to anonymously drop off a baby they may not be able to care for. 

"Once the door is opened, within approximately a minute to a minute and ten seconds an alarm will occur in the station. Once the alarm goes off we will transport the baby to the nearest available facility," Defiance Fire Chief Bill Wilkins said.

While no babies have ever been dropped off in their box, Chief Wilkins reassures the process is completely safe, secure and anonymous. 

Cyndi Ensign with the Defiance Zonta Club helped make the baby box a reality, which at the time was the first of its kind at an Ohio Fire Department. The Zonta Club advocates for women's health resources. Ensign said having this option for women is especially important. 

"The fire departments have always been a safe haven for mothers to drop off babies safely, but with the box, it has a lot of extra safeguards," Ensign said.

Right now, Defiance is one of the only places in northwest Ohio with a Safe Haven Baby Box, but that will soon change. 

The Springfield Township Fire Department is set to get a box later this fall, as long as fundraising goes as planned.

"It's always been something that I felt was important," Shelbie Flegal, a Springfield Township firefighter, said. "I never want to be that firefighter that goes on that call where we have a baby abandoned or some tragic accident happens. So, I thought rather than be reactive, our community could be proactive," said 

Flegal said the department has been working to bring a safe haven box to their community for a few months, despite no specific incident that presented a need for one. She reassures mothers considering using any safe haven box that it is a safe, judgment-free option. 

"It's 100% a safe option," Flegal said. The box is temperature-controlled, it's locked from the outside. We have this option for women who feel like they don't have an option, I think it's a great thing," Flegal said.

Flegal said the department is hoping to have the box up and running in October. For information on donating to the department's funding efforts, click here.

RELATED: Toledoans speaking out about Roe v. Wade

RELATED: Ohio organization assists women seeking abortion services despite "heartbeat" law

RELATED: Ohio Supreme Court denies motion for emergency stay of Ohio's six-week abortion ban

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