Governor Heineman fights prenatal care bill

By: Megan Palera

A bill involving prenatal care just passed a second-round vote on Wednesday evening, and the Governor is fighting it all the way. It would restore taxpayer-funded prenatal care for low-income mothers, many of whom are illegal immigrants.

The Governor is fired up over this bill and determined to stop it, but there are a lot of senators who say this isn't about illegal immigration, it's about the health of an unborn child.

Prenatal care for the unborn, the child doesn't have a say. That's the reasoning behind a bill sponsored by Speaker Mike Flood.

It uses taxpayer money to fund coverage for some low-income mothers, including illegal immigrants. “Once a baby is born in Nebraska, he or she is a Nebraska citizen and we will all pay for any complications. Once month in the NICU will cost more for one child than this entire program,” said Speaker Flood.

The program will cost the state between $500,000 and $650,000 a year in addition to federal money. So far, most senators are on board to restore that money that had been offered to women for nearly thirty years, until recently.

The bill is guaranteed to hit a big roadblock soon. Governor Dave Heineman said Wednesday that he will do everything he can to keep it from becoming law. “We should be using tax dollars for legal purposes, for the education of our children, for job creation; not for taxpayer funded benefits for illegal immigrants,” said Governor Heineman.

The program would help about 1,600 low-income women in Nebraska, about half who are illegal immigrants.

Voices for Children recently conducted a statewide survey of 500 voters and found that the majority of people still support the measure, even if it serve illegal immigrants.

“You do need to look at it from the stance of the unborn child because that's the purpose of the prenatal care. Immigration is a federal issue, I don't think this is the battlefield for it,” said Frank Miner of Lincoln.

Becky Holtmeier disagrees, “I think we have enough problems in the United States already with our healthcare issues and we shouldn't be giving immigrants our money. Our money should go to our people.”

The bill still has to go through one final round of debate before it goes to the Governor's desk. If he vetoes it, it will take thirty votes to override.