ImageNebraska has recently been on the radar screen for their controversy regarding public funding of “illegal” pregnant immigrants. Although Nebraska’s governor vetoed the bill that allowed funding for prenatal care, the Nebraska legislatures had the good sense to switch the benefits to a state-funded program for children which would include the unborn babies. Should the unborn be penalized because of their mothers’ immigration status?

When the general public hears the word “illegal” associated with the word immigrant, they immediately think of people who are born south of the border. But if the truth be told, there are pregnant women who enter the U.S. as tourists every day, have their babies and then return to their country. Eighteen years from now, these “babies” will be U.S. citizens although their parents never paid taxes or contributed to Social Security.  Is that “illegal?”

Money is usually the deciding factor regarding political policies and these policies affect the unborn. When I worked in public health in the pre-9/11 days, there was a wealthy couple from the Middle East who sought prenatal care.  The wife was very advanced in her pregnancy and her jewelry was worth more than my month’s salary.  My initial impression was “How on earth did an airline allow her to board a plane and travel half-way around the world?” The administrator spoke with me personally to make certain that I would “take care of the patient.”His concern had less to do with the well-being of her baby and more to do with the cash that her husband pulled out of his pocket to pay for her care. He peeled off $2500.00 in one-hundred dollar bills as if they were one-dollar denominations. He then asked how soon could they return to their country after the birth of their child and also mentioned that they were staying at the Ritz Carlton Hotel.

So, which is worse?   A baby born to an “undocumented” immigrant whose husband is under the radar screen and working for minimum wage or a wealthy medical tourist who has a baby that will return 18 years later to claim their rights and privileges as an American citizen? I’ll let you be the judge.