At Least Five Babies Have Died Since Nebraska Denied Undocumented Mothers Prenatal Care

Yesterday, I wrote about Gov. Scott Walker’s (R-WI) proposal to deny pregnant undocumented women access to prenatal care assistance. I argued that Walker’s position runs counter to his vehemently “pro-life” crusade. In the post, I also mentioned that when the state of Nebraska debated a similar proposal, anti-choice groups strongly opposed denying undocumented women prenatal care because it put “borders ahead of babies.”

It turns out that many of their worst fears have come true. The Lincoln Journal Star reports that preventing undocumented women from accessing prenatal care assistance has had “dramatic effects”:

The elimination one year ago of Medicaid funding for prenatal care for about 1,600 low-income women has had dramatic effects, doctors and health clinic administrators reported Wednesday. At least five babies have died. Women are traveling 155 miles to get prenatal care. Babies have been delivered at clinics, in ambulances and hospital emergency rooms. […]

Andrea Skolkin, chief executive officer of One World Community Health Centers in Omaha, said that in the past year, only about half of uninsured women are receiving any prenatal care. The health center has more premature births to uninsured women, compared to insured women. Uninsured mothers were twice as likely to deliver through cesarean section, which is more expensive. […] Four infants died in utero at the Columbus health center, she said. In the previous seven years, the clinic had never had an in utero death.

Nebraska state Sen. Kathy Campbell (R) has introduced a bill that would reinstate the prenatal care. “We need to be pro-life from cradle to grave, to err on the side of compassion and stay grounded in family values,” stated the Rev. Howard Dotson of Omaha’s Westminster Presbyterian Church who testified in support of the bill.

However, opposition to Campbell’s bill is largely ideological. “Our position is that we shouldn’t be spending any money for people who are here illegally,” stated Vivianne Chaumont, director of the state’s Medicaid division who testified in opposition to the bill. Dr. Caron Gray, from Creighton University Medical Center and clinics called Chaumont out, stating, “We can sit here and talk about costs as much as we would like, but I think we really need to be honest about what this is truly about … political beliefs and standing on what to do with immigration.”

Meanwhile, while Nebraska is forcing some women to watch their babies die due to lack of prenatal care assistance, another woman also had to experience the same “torture” because the state would not allow her to terminate her pregnancy even after doctors told her that her child would not live.