Last Friday, on Fox News’ On the Record with Greta Van Susteren, conservative state lawmaker Peter Palumbo (D-RI) appeared with state Rep. Joseph Trillo (R-RI) to discuss their outreach to Arizona politicians as they craft their own tough immigration law. During the interview, Palumbo referenced “anchor babies,” a derogatory and “politically charged” term used to refer to the U.S. citizen children of undocumented parents, noting that in Rhode Island they have “anchor embryos”:
We’ve all heard of anchor babies. We have something unique to Rhode Island, and they’re called anchor embryos. And what it is is a policy that we have in the state of Rhode Island — if you’re an illegal alien woman and you’re pregnant and you come to Rhode Island, you go to the Department of Human Services — the first thing you have to do is tell them that you’re an illegal alien and you’re pregnant and the Department of Human Services will offer you, do you want Blue Cross, United, or Neighborhood Health.
A handful of states provide prenatal care assistance based on an unborn child’s eligibility, rather than the pregnant woman’s. When Nebraska moved to deny the unborn babies of undocumented women prenatal care Medicaid assistance, state Sen. Jeremy Nordquist called it “the biggest pro-life issue in the Legislature this year.” Pro-life advocates who support providing prenatal care assistance for undocumented mothers argue that it’s a matter of fetal rights. “We don’t accept that borders should be put ahead of babies,” said Julie Schmit-Albin, executive director of Nebraska Right to Life. Nebraska Right to Life believes that providing prenatal care “improves the chances that a woman will choose to give birth rather than seek an abortion.” Others argue that denying future U.S. citizen children prenatal care benefits boils down to an issue of public health.
Ironically, Palumbo has also sponsoredThe Women’s Right to Know Act in 2002 which included provisions requiring doctors to “offer alternatives to abortion and about available public and private assistance for prenatal care, childbirth, and services available to help with children and families.” “This legislation ensures that women have all the information they need to make their decision” reasoned Palumbo.