An Act of Humanity Among Lawmakers

By: Daniel Nardini

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - CommentaryThis act of humanity happened for the strangest of reasons. A bill was passed in the Nebraska state legislature that would fund pre-natal care for all women in the state under the state’s Children’s Health Insurance Program. However, a provision was put in there that would not expand this program to undocumented pregnant mothers. But just before this bill went to Nebraska Governor Dave Heineman for his signature to make it law, the largely Republican legislators struck out the provision excluding undocumented pregnant women. The governor vowed that he would veto this legislation unless that provision was put back into the original bill. It is unlikely that the governor will get his way on this point.

Apparently, the Republican legislators had a change of heart because they feared that the unborn of undocumented immigrant mothers might be aborted if the mothers were not given pre-natal care. In other words, the issue of the unborn trumped the issue of immigration. Just as strangely enough, the Republican legislators argued, correctly and logically, that giving all women in the state, regardless of their immigration status, the necessary pre-natal care they need will save the state even more money in preventing pregnancy complications, emergency visits to the hospital, and forcing women to have abortions if the unborn should suffer some injury. Heineman, on the other hand, simply argues that because undocumented women are “illegally here” they must be denied access.

If one looks at the statistics, the cost of giving pre-natal care to undocumented women is a far, far better alternative than spending money for emergency complications. Besides, the undocumented women in the state will certainly not drain the state’s coffers. At present, there are an estimated 750 pregnant undocumented mothers (out of a total state population of 1.8 million). This will hardly break the bank. It will in fact do more to actually save the state money in the not-so-long run. No, the Republican legislators are not doing this because they suddenly like the undocumented, or immigrants in general. They have chosen their course of action based on their deeply held religious beliefs and on saving the state dollars and cents. Maybe not a great or entirely moral argument, but at least it has some humanity in it. I will give the Republican state legislaotrs kudos for that!

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