Abandoned newborn found in dumpster reminds people of Texas Safe Haven laws

There have been countless stories of mothers leaving their unwanted newborn babies in unsafe places like dumpsters or on the side of the roadways.

Earlier this week, a newborn baby girl was found in a dumpster at the Mira Vista Apartments in north Austin.

Thankfully the infant is still alive and in fair condition but not all babies survive horrific abandonments.

Saturday afternoon more than 25 leaders from across the country came together in downtown Austin to discuss how a tragedy like that could have been prevented by using the Safe Haven law or better known in Texas as the Moses Law.

Suzanne Hobbs is no stranger to heart-wrenching stories of tragedy and loss.

Hobbs use to work as a news reporter 17 years ago in Idaho Falls, Idaho.          

She still remembers the day 17 years ago when she received a tip that a newborn baby had been abandoned.

"I rushed over to the scene saw police putting up the crime scene tape and knew that there was a dead baby that had been thrown away in this dumpster,"   said Hobbs.

Hobbs never imagined how one story would change the course of her life forever.

“At the time I was trying to get pregnant with a baby I had been married for seven years, we could not have children and I thought I would have taken that baby, “said Hobbs.  "It became my mission to get a safe haven law passed in Idaho."

She became one of Idaho's biggest advocates of the safe haven law, and worked with Sen. Bart Davis more than a decade ago, to bring the Safe Haven law to the Gem State.

Today Hobbs credits the Safe Haven law for bringing her daughter into her life.

“About a year or two later I ended up adopting a Safe Haven baby,” said Hobbs.

Her daughter was safely surrendered to a hospital after delivery.

“I said your birth mom made a good decision she loved you so much that she knew where to take you so that I could then end up having you a few days later," said Hobbs.

The experience influenced Hobbs to becoming an advocate for Safe Haven babies.

"I want to make sure no babies end up dumpsters again but that they end up in arms just like mine and of families who want to have children,"   said Hobbs.

On Saturday, Hobbs joined more than two dozen leaders from across the country who have, in one way or another, been impacted by a safe haven baby.

Pediatric Nurse Heather Burner said she kept a seared image of a baby that was abandoned in a trash can at the hospital she worked at in Arizona.

She said that image has stayed with her while rallying for the Safe Haven laws.

“My story started 8 years ago, I am a pediatric emergency nurse a baby was found in garbage can in our waiting room. A 15-year-old mother had checked into the hospital and ended up delivering a baby and disposing of it in a trash. It really hit home for me,” said Burner.

Burner along with Hobbs hopes educating mothers will deter them from dumping their babies and instead gives them information and support.

"I want a mom that might be in a place that she feels that she’s broken, that she’s desperate that she knows that she has options and that we are here for her. No blame, no shame,” said Burner. "We can help her and we can save the life of this baby."

Hobbs said she recognizes the law has saved many babies. However, she believes there’s still a lot of work to be done.

"I want to celebrate the good stories, we have saved thousands of babies through the Safe Haven Alliance but yet have lost a lot of babies as well,” said Hobbs.

Currently, all 50 state have Safe Haven laws on the books, varying between the age limit, person who may surrender a child, and circumstances required to relinquish an infant child.  In most case, parents can leave newborns in safe locations without having to disclose their identity or without being asked questions. 

In Texas the law protects parents who are unable to care for their baby that’s up to 60 days old, if the infant is dropped off unharmed at a designated safe place such as a hospital, freestanding emergency medical care facility, fire station or emergency medical services (EMS) station.