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Opinion: Tragedy to Triumph, NM’s Safe Haven Baby Boxes



 By: Senator David Gallegos (R- Eunice)


Two years ago, the Hobbs community in my district made national news when a newborn baby boy was found by dumpster divers inside an industrial garbage container. Following the discovery, the whole country watched the shocking video footage of the baby being discarded by his teenage mother just hours earlier. As a proud father and grandfather, this tragedy struck me to my core, and I immediately went to work to assist local authorities any way I could. By the grace of God, that baby boy survived and he is now a happy and healthy two-year-old. Little does he know that the journey he endured and overcame inspired the impactful changes that have already saved the lives of three other babies.

 

In partnership with Monica Kelsey of Safe Haven Baby Boxes, we are actively working to expand options for New Mexico mothers facing unplanned and unwanted pregnancies. Our secured, monitored, and climate-controlled Baby Boxes are now available at seven fire stations across New Mexico with more to come. They allow a mother to anonymously and safely surrender her child to the custody of the state without the guilt of a personal interaction with law enforcement or medical providers. In two short years, we have already had three newborns surrendered, including a baby boy in Hobbs last month.

 

This solution works, and in addition to putting a Baby Box every New Mexico county, we are working to educate mothers on the availability of this option, should they need it. I am pleased to share that this ongoing effort has received broad support from other legislators and community leaders on both sides of the aisle. I commend and applaud the local communities who have moved forward with the implementation of these devices. Their actions have saved lives.

 

The situation two years ago, as well as others, are disheartening tragedies. However, we learned from them and collaborated to allow for innovative solutions to ensure these types of situations do not happen again. Having these Baby Boxes available is one of my proudest accomplishments as a legislator, and I urge other communities to join us on this life-saving journey.

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