SAN ANTONIO — Texas law allows parents who are unable to care for their infants under 60 days of age to be surrendered at a designated "safe place" with no questions asked.
The founder of a local nonprofit said she's working to expand that window to 1 year of age.
“The average age of the babies that I bury is four months," said Pamela Allen, the CEO and founder of Eagles Flight Advocacy and Outreach. "That’s two months past the Baby Moses Law. Why can't we change this? We need to change this."
Allen's nonprofit serves a number of San Antonio families annually. Among those missions is to give neglected and abandoned babies a proper burial.
The Texas Department of Family Protective Services website explains that the Safe Haven Law, commonly referred to as the Baby Moses Law, gives parents a legal and safe choice to surrender their infant at a safe place, which includes: hospitals, fire stations, free-standing emergency centers or emergency medical services stations.
Currently, parents who surrender their children who are over 60 days old are subject to criminal prosecution. Allen said she believes increasing the age at which a child may be surrendered will give infants and their parents a chance at a productive life.
“We do believe that a lot of reason that we are finding babies that are abandoned is because mothers are afraid of prosecution," she said. "Well, what if we extended that law? What if we made sure that these mothers weren’t prosecuted?”
She said the increase would "(change) the destiny for some of these babies that would otherwise be put in a trash can or otherwise be found on the side of the road."
"That's who I started burying first," Allen said. "My first baby was baby Noel. He was found at the waste management facility in December of 2013. After that it, was baby Christian found in a little piece of suitcase on the side of Highway 37. Babies thrown away. We have to stop this.”
Allen said she's bounced the idea off state representatives who have expressed support for the proposal.
"All of 2020 is going to be spent rallying, working with the legislators, getting this bill drawn up and it's just an amendment because this is an amazing bill. It's just saying from two months to twelve months."
Allen said the first step is to ensure that parents are educated about the law as it stands and, from there, work to change it.
"(The Baby Moses) Law was passed when a lot of these young women weren't even born," Allen said. "They don't even know that the law exists."