WEST ENGLEWOOD — Family members of Marlen Ochoa Uriostegui Lopez, who was slain and had her unborn son stolen from her womb, are calling for new legislation that would require identification and DNA testing for anyone entering a hospital claiming a newborn as their own.
The 19-year-old was laid to rest in suburban Stickney on Saturday. Her son is still fighting for his life while three people connected to her murder are being held without bail.
Julie Contreras, a spokeswoman for the family and chair of LULAC National Immigration Committee, said the family is pushing for a bill referred to as Marlen’s Law to check the identities of newborns brought into a hospital.
The law would create a standard procedure to avoid the abduction of children much like what happened to Lopez’s son after his mother was strangled, Contreras said.
State Rep. Karina Villa is sponsoring the legislation and hopes to introduce the law as early as next year.
Last month, Clarisa Figueroa, who is among the three charged in the murder of Lopez, was brought to Advocate Christ Medical Center on April 23 after calling 911 claiming that her baby was unresponsive after giving birth at her home.
Christ Medical Center came under fire for failing to notify police and the Department of Children and Family Services after determining Figueroa did not, in fact, give birth to the child.
“While at the labor and delivery section at Christ Hospital defendant Clarisa was examined but showed no signs consistent with the woman who had just delivered a baby,” prosecutors said in court earlier this month.
The blood on the suspect was cleaned off by an OB technician and the defendant was treated, prosecutors said.
The hospital cited “patient privacy” for not contacting authorities until two weeks after the baby was admitted to the hospital on April 23, according to a Tribune report.
Contreras said hospitals and medical facilities needed to have standardized protocols and procedures to verify people who bring newborns into a hospital, especially after giving birth at home, are the parents.
“It’s very alarming how someone can walk into a hospital with a baby, who doesn’t show signs of childbirth, and no questions are asked. Why wasn’t that a red flag?” Contreras questioned.
“Marlen died a brutal, heinous death,” Contreras said. “I don’t want her life to be remembered like that. We don’t want her life to be lost in vain. By creating Marlen’s law, we are keeping her alive, and keeping children safe.”
On April 23, Lopez vanished after leaving Latino Youth High School in Little Village. Lopez was lured to a home in the Scottsdale neighborhood in the South Side with a promise of exchanging baby clothes for a double stroller, prosecutors said.
After she was reported missing, her family questioned why they and detectives weren’t alerted after her car was issued three parking citations following her disappearance.