An infant was surrendered to a Safe Haven Baby Box in Belen, New Mexico, on Tuesday afternoon.
The baby boy was surrendered to a Belen Fire Department station, one of five Safe Haven Baby Box locations in the state. A sixth location is set to be dedicated in Roswell on Wednesday, KOB4 reported.
“There’s three human beings now that I believe are in this world, because those boxes have been put in place,” state Sen. Gregory Baca (R) told the outlet.
The push for baby boxes in New Mexico came after Alexis Avila was seen on surveillance video in 2022 throwing a trash bag with her newborn boy inside into a dumpster in Hobbs, New Mexico, when she was 18.
“The most tragic thing that we can imagine would be a parent that just gave birth, being in such a situation that they feel they have no other alternative but to, you know, place their newborn in a dumpster or some other receptacle,” Baca said.
Baby boxes were created to deter parents from abandoning their newborns, potentially leaving them to die. Baby boxes are temperature-controlled incubators often built into outside, exterior walls of fire stations, police stations, and hospitals that can be accessed from inside. At-risk mothers can safely and legally place their newborns inside. Then, the outside door locks, and mothers have time to get away before an alarm goes off alerting first responders or hospital staff inside.
The baby is then quickly removed and sent to a hospital for a wellness check. From there, the baby is usually placed into state custody and is often quickly adopted.
According to the report, New Mexico Gov. Lujan Grisham set aside $330,000 last year for every county to install a baby box. So far, most of the baby boxes are located in more rural areas of the state.
“In the rural parts of the state, I think it’s more of a priority. Those are areas where hospitals are not as readily available. And so, you know, it gives these people a place to go somewhat close to them or closer to them,” Baca said.
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