LEA COUNTY, New Mexico (KMID/KPEJ)- David Gallegos, a Republican Senator serving New Mexico’s 41st District, announced yesterday he will re-introduce legislation to help protect at-risk babies.
The announcement came one year after baby Saul was allegedly abandoned by his teenaged mother in a dumpster in Hobbs. The newborn survived several hours in the cold dumpster, wrapped in a plastic bag, before he was rescued by three people who were “dumpster diving”.
The now one-year-old’s ordeal sparked outrage in the community and security video from a nearby business helped lead investigators to the arrest of the boy’s mother, 18-year-old Alexis Avila. Avila was subsequently charged with attempted first-degree murder, or alternatively, abuse of a child. She has remained on house arrest ever since.
The legislation backed by Gallegos would amend the Safe Haven Act to allow for the installation of baby boxes in all 33 counties. A baby box is a safety drawer at a firehouse or hospital where an infant can be surrendered safely and anonymously for any reason.
The boxes are equipped with ventilation and heat regulation, and a silent alarm to alert the rescue team. As it stands currently, the use of baby boxes is not permitted in New Mexico under the Safe Haven Act which specifies that infants can only be surrendered to a healthcare provider, law enforcement officer, or first responder within 90 days of birth to remove liability of abandonment from the parent.
In a Facebook post, Gallegos wrote, “This is Saul… the baby who was left in the trash dumpster that started my baby box bill. He is one today and out of his tragedy I hope that change will happen to give children like him a future. This year, I will be introducing the baby box legislation again. We must protect the young and the vulnerable. Happy Birthday, baby Saul!”