LB 599 in the Nebraska Legislature has pitted foes on two different issues against each other. On the one hand is Governor Dave Heineman, who has stated that it is an immigration issue — he does not want to provide taxpayer funded prenatal care for illegal immigrants.
On the other side is those who state that it is a Pro-Life issue — that the child born will likely be a Nebraska citizen, and giving free care will more likely result in a healthy child.
But Leavenworth Street has learned of a third angle on this bill — one that the Pro-Life forces may not have realized:
Abortion provider Planned Parenthood would be eligible to receive state money for providing services to illegal immigrants under this law, if passed.
We have learned that an illegal immigrant woman could go into a Planned Parenthood clinic, receive whatever prenatal care she sought, then Planned Parenthood could bill the state for those services.
It should be noted that some argue that Planned Parenthood does NOT separate any funds they receive for providing prenatal services from those they receive for providing abortion services — that all the money goes into one account. So Nebraskans may ask if money would be mixed in to pay for prenatal services and for abortions.
Now it is our understanding that Planned Parenthood could not bill the State of Nebraska for performing an abortion on an illegal immigrant. But, an illegal immigrant woman could go into Planned Parenthood, receive prenatal care from them, then decide to abort (and pay PP out of her own pocket), and Nebraska would still have to pay the bill for the prenatal care.
And while some might question the likelihood of someone first getting the prenatal services and then aborting, the other side of it is Planned Parenthood using the lure of prenatal services to get the illegal immigrant woman in the door, and then counseling her to abort. Is this beyond what Planned Parenthood stoops to? You can be the judge on that.
All this being said, low income, LEGAL Nebraska residents can now go into Planned Parenthood, get prenatal care, and Planned Parenthood can bill the state. But the argument on the “Pro-Life” side of of LB 599 has been that it is purely a Pro-Life question. By the insertion of Planned Parenthood into the equation, it muddies the waters. How much? A drop? A handful? A shovelful? Does it matter? Maybe it does, maybe it doesn’t.
At this point LB 599 has passed in the legislature, and if vetoed, as planned, it cannot be amended in a veto override. So it is all or nothing here.
We have no idea where Nebraska Right to Life stands on this, or if they were or are aware of this situation. Maybe they feel they can just fight to keep illegal immigrant women from going to Planned Parenthood. Or maybe they figure that some money going to Planned Parenthood’s abortion services from Nebraska is worth it for the services that illegal immigrant women would get from the new law. Or maybe there is another way to look at it that we haven’t thought of.
But we have not heard this argument on this bill anywhere else. And if the opposition argument to the illegal immigrant argument is pretty simply, “support the Pro-Life position”, there is a a real question as to what the Pro-Life position here really is.
**UPDATE at 3:00pm**
We asked Julie Schmit-Albin of Nebraska Right to Life if she would like to comment on this post, and she forwarded the following to us:
This is nothing more than an 11th hour attempt to scuttle LB 599. Senator Fulton had General File and Select File to posit this theory if he thought it was such a threat. He hinted at it this week with me when he said something like, “why would Planned Parenthood like this bill?”
There is nothing to stop PP from putting its hand out for more public funds. I suppose for the past 30 years when prenatal services were provided under Medicaid that it’s a possibility that PP was getting reimbursed for some of those services. PPFA in its annual report always shows a small segment of services provided as being prenatal services. In fact, it is such a miniscule amount that they are ridiculed for it.
Likewise, if we could get our hands on Planned Parenthood of the Heartland’s (PPH) annual report, which they keep close to the vest, I suppose we would find some percentage on prenatal services. PPH has been receiving State funds for pap and chlamydia testing for years. Former GOP Senator LaVon Crosby instituted that and I’ve never seen Tony Fulton try to remove that from going to PPH, even though he sat on Appropriations.
You can’t cite PP in legislation (constitutional problem). The best way to handle this is to pass something like LB 925, which died in committee this year. That provided a tiered approach showing preference for public funding to first county and city health agencies, then public or private healthcare facilities that provide comprehensive primary care.
Is someone going to make the case that PPH is into comprehensive primary care like One World Health Center and the Columbus clinic which have been the two biggest proponents of LB 599 from the healthcare angle as they are the entities that have picked up most of the prenatal services that stopped under Medicaid two years ago.
PPH announced last year that they want to expand to six cities across the State. Pro-lifers in Fremont, Grand Island, Hastings, Norfolk, North Platte and Kearney have been meeting, forming new groups to be vigilant against PPH coming in. Our radar is up on PPH more than it ever was. So if they start advertising in Spanish that they do prenatal services, I think we’ll be on top of it.
It is troubling that a Catholic, pro-life senator continues to walk point against LB 599, a bill that not only will help unborn babies but will also acknowledge them as persons under the law.