NEW MEXICO (KRQE) – The state is reminding New Mexicans of the Safe Haven for Infants Act. This comes after a teen mother, Alexis Avila, is accused of throwing her newborn baby in the trash over the weekend. The New Mexico Department of Health says the act is intended to protect parents from criminal prosecution when they choose to leave infants at safe havens within 90 days of birth, as long as the child has not been subject to any child abuse or neglect prior to relinquishment.
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“This rarely used but critical law saves lives. Increasing awareness about what can be done safely and without prosecution, offers a desperately needed alternative for parents who are unable to care for their infants, including giving them up for adoption,” said DOH Acting Secretary Dr. David Scrase in a news release.
The news release states, that according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the highest risk for infant homicide is on the day of birth and as a result, all 50 states and Puerto Rico have enacted Safe Haven Laws to address infant abandonment and endangerment. The infant homicide rate on the day of birth decreased from 222.2 per 100,000 person-years during 1989 to 1998 to 74.0 during 2008 to 2017 (66.7% decline) but remains at least 5.4 times higher than the rate at any other time in life.
The news release states that Texas was the first state to enact a “Baby Moses Law” in 1999, in reaction to 13 incidents of child abandonment in the year, three of them involving infants found dead. For more information, visit childwelfare.gov/topics/systemwide/laws-policies/statutes/safehaven.