Nebraska To Revisit Prenatal Care For Illegal Immigrants

The state of Nebraska passed numerous controversial reproductive health bills during the 2010 legislative session, but none caused quite the debate of the decision to end prenatal care for undocumented women in the state. 

For a legislature and governor that were priding themselves on their “pro-life” stances, to cut any form of prenatal care should have been unheard of.  But when the state was informed that they could no longer continue coverage for a large group of low-income women, including those who were in the country illegally, the legislature refused to act to extend the coverage, knowing that they did not have enough support to override a veto from the governor.

Now, as a result of the cuts, rates of stillbirth and infant death has risen, and much of it can be traced directly to the lack of prenatal care.

Via the Omaha World Herald:

One of the most controversial issues of the year — whether illegal immigrants should get government-paid prenatal care — will be debated again in 2011 by the Nebraska Legislature.

That was the word from three lawmakers after hearing reports Friday that four stillbirths and one premature death had occurred since the state decided to end prenatal services for such women.

Charity health-care facilities in Omaha and Columbus also said they have been overwhelmed since the prenatal coverage was dropped.

“This is not an immigration issue, this is about the health and well-being of our children,” said State Sen. Brad Ashford of Omaha.

About a year ago, federal Medicaid officials informed Nebraska that it had to change or drop its decades-long policy of providing government-paid prenatal care because it was being done improperly.

The state restored the care for some women, but about 1,600 low-income women lost the coverage March 1, including 840 who were in the country illegally.

Rebecca Rayman of the Good Neighbor Community Health Center in Columbus said her clinic has seen four stillbirths since March, after having none in the previous six years.

“Only God knows” whether all those deaths were attributable to the lack of prenatal care, Rayman said. She believes at least one of the stillbirths was.

Two emergency births took place at a South Omaha clinic because women were afraid of the high costs they might incur if they went to a hospital.

One of the infants was delivered at 20 weeks and died, said Andrea Skolkin of OneWorld Community Health Centers. The infant’s mother had received no prenatal care.

Governor Heineman refused to allow the state to cover care under fear of “providing comfort” to people in the country illegally.  But those children will be citizens once they are born, regardless of their health, and the lack of prenatal care subjects them to short term and life long health issues that would be an even greater burden to the state.  Or, even worse, those children simply won’t survive.

Now that the real life consequences of the vote are obvious, revisiting the issue in the 2011 legislature will force Nebraska politicians to prove what really matters more to them — helping children be healthy, or punishing them for who their parents are.

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Duane B.
.4 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

Rie Rie T.
Ria T6 years ago

All people are human beings whether they have papers documenting them or not. Please read "Tortilla Curtain" and maybe walk in another's shoes. I want to pay for everyone everywhere. I can afford to pay for some some places. A pregnant woman who is here is here. Humans all need help sometimes.

Jose S.
Jose S.6 years ago


jane richmond
jane richmond7 years ago

Everyone is entitled to health care but I REALLY CAN HARDLY AFFORD MY OWN much less paying for everyone else. They should not be covered in full-- contribute something towards your own care.

Kimberly M.
Kimberly M7 years ago

I belive we are human beings first and Americans second...and we should treat eachother as such.

Treat others as you would want to be treated...and I know that if i was pregnant and visiting Mexico or Canada, I would hope that they would provide me with medical care. (Canada will and Mexico will too, I just have to pay for it - but fortunately, it is much cheaper than it is here).

gerlinde p.
gerlinde p7 years ago

every woman should get prenatal healthcare

Antonio C.

Hi, Paul, you're so heart-warmingly idealistic I thought you must be younger than you are. It's weird, though, how many Romans wrote as you just did and also really believed it as strongly as you did, while many in the Empire, not always, but for some time, believed nothing of it.
But in some ways and without question, you're right: I was a young child In Italy right after the end of WW II (I was a legal immigrant and was proudly naturalized in 1960) and I don't think I'll ever forget two really great things the US did for us all there: 1) helped save us from hunger and 2), in the long term, even much more important, and no "helping" here, saved us from Stalin. And you're of course right about Korea (You'd probably enjoy reading ODD MAN OUT on that), But that doesn't mean the US does not run an empire now, and many of the battles fought after WW II and Korea were not at all as you'd describe them, and I don't mean just Vietnam, but operations ranging from Iran and Guatemala in '54, to most of Africa after decolonization, Indonesia, Chile, Diego Garcia and on and on. Vietnam was totlly unncssry, & CIA predicted very early in our invlvmnt that we'd lose the war, as we did, with the deaths of 100s & 100s of 1000s of people. Iraq was also unnecessary, if you believe as I do that the US gvrrmnt shld pursue the intrsts of th USA only, and in no way the intrsts & greed of anthr cntry, and that people running the US shld never have 2al citiznshp

Heather G.
Heather G7 years ago

Sherri O, you shouldn't allow hatred to dictate your assumptions about people. your hatred is clouding your judgement, not one single thing you assumed about me is correct.

Mary L.
Mary L7 years ago

As with anything regarding health care, fury abounds. I think Canadian healthcare is fantastic. Can't say the same for the hodgepodge in the country I was born and live in.

Insurance companies are still running their death panels and all congress does is encourage them by insuring that the people get nothing and the insurance companies get everything.

Thank the heavens that some of the health care reform survived the slaughter.

Sherri O.
.7 years ago

Debbie Cross..are you daft!? Canadians don't run across the border to get free anything. Yes there are waits for surgeries , and some may die waiting. Keep in mind, no matter how bad our system is, it is still better than yours.

Most of us pay for health care through our taxes, unless, of course, you're a 'refugee' from a third world country, on welfare or disability.

We need a passport to get into your country now, thanks to crappy immigration policies on both sides of the border. And we sure as hell don't try to get anything free from the States. They have enough leeches sucking them dry. Even if we were fleeing across to your side, which we are not, at least we speak English.

Certain surgeries or treatments may not be available in Canada and people will go to find help, but they PAY for it.

American seniors come across our borders to buy their meds because they are cheaper. We, the tax payers help to fund it. So, you take advantage of us.

You are obviously ignorant about Canada and what goes on here. So, please stop flapping your gums about something you know nothing about.