Rio Arriba County, City of Española Pass Life-Affirming Resolution in Support of "Safe Haven" Laws
This month, Rio Arriba county passed a resolution drafted by John Wickersham, President of the Española Firefighter's Association and New Mexico Alliance for Life's Elisa Martinez to raise awareness for New Mexico's "Safe Haven" law. The action comes after an Española area woman's newborn infant was found dead inside a trash bag after she injected the baby with heroin to prevent withdrawal symptoms.
New Mexico's Safe Haven law allows mothers who cannot care for a newborn child who is 90 days or younger, to give up custody of their child to local hospital staff, law enforcement, or firefighters. Residents of Rio Arriba county worked with NMAFL to draft the resolution in order to raise awareness to the safe haven option for women.
"I'm grateful our community leaders have taken action to raise awareness on this life-saving option for women and their newborns," said Española Firefighter's Association President John Wickersham. "We want to make mothers aware they have another option; we don't ever want to see a situation like these end in tragedy."
"When an expecting mother is overwhelmed by the decisions before her we will be there with a helping hand to guide the decision to allow these children to be born knowing that they will be cared for. This is the true and one and only option. And that mother will be praised for her efforts, and not condemned," said Española mayor Javier Sanchez.
New Mexico passed a Safe Haven law in 2005, and amended in 2013 to include fire stations, police stations and hospitals as designated "safe haven" sites for a mother to lawfully relinquish custody of an infant within 90 days of his or her birth, without criminal prosecution.
The resolutions also require Rio Arriba County and Española City Council to allocate resources to raise awareness across the city and county about this option for women.
Española citizen Jeremy Martinez originally brought the resolution to the attention of the city. Jeramy has full Guardianship of Dominic a one-year-old born with Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS).
The Española Firefighters Union IAFF 4339 wrote, "We want to raise awareness about NAS. 30,000 babies are born with this condition about 1 every 15 minutes."
NMAFL will work with other municipalities and counties across New Mexico to pass similar resolutions in order to affirm life and promote awareness and access to Safe Haven sites. Please contact us via email if you are interested in introducing a Safe Haven resolution in your community.