HOBBS, New Mexico — One year after 18-year-old Alexis Avila threw her newborn baby boy into a dumpster in Hobbs, New Mexico State Senator David Gallegos reintroduced a bill that would provide additional options to mothers, he told KLBK News on Tuesday.
Senator Gallegos proposed a “baby box bill” for the second time in the last year, which would amend the Safe Haven Act so that all 33 counties in New Mexico would have baby boxes, which are safety drawers at fire stations or hospitals where an infant can be surrendered safely and anonymously for any reason.
“She felt so isolated and alone that she made the worst mistake she could ever make and I think it’s a failure on our side- the legislature- because we didn’t think this through to educate her and give her options,” said Senator Gallegos. “That’s what I’m hoping to do.”
Other state legislators opposed the bill last year “because it gives protection to the mother, and I think that’s where we go wrong. I think we need to still keep the protection for the mother,” he began.
“This year, my proposal will have the caveat; we’ll still do the safe haven box, but I’m also going to add a 911 element,” he explained, so the infant can be handed off to officials “wherever she deems appropriate. It comes down to protecting the child and also giving the mother an avenue instead of discarding the child.”
Senator Gallegos said he will place an emphasis on educating the community about this proposed option.
“When you start at an early age and you hear ‘if you’ve got emergency, call 911,’ at the point in time that you really need it, it’s not something you have to look up in a book or ask someone about. You automatically refer back to 911. I want something like that, so the mother in [her] time of need knows exactly where to go.”
The state legislator said six counties in New Mexico are actively pursuing the cause.
“Española, New Mexico was the first one to install one. It’s basically a camera, heat sensor, bassinet, [and] a locked device.”
However, installing baby boxes is not an easy task. The state senator said it takes time to find a site that has 24-hour monitoring, life staff, and alarms. He estimated the cost to be approximately $7,000-$10,000 with small monthly fees.
Senator Gallegos added that Hobbs officials have installed a baby box in light of the incident and is currently going through the testing phase. He said it should be available for use in the next few weeks.
Avila’s trial was set for April 14, 2023.