By Senator Jay Paul Gumm, D-Durant
Hello again, everybody! As we prepare for the 2008 legislative session, it appears that one of the most contentious issues of 2007 will return.
During consideration of the new state law to try to handle what really is a federal problem – illegal immigration – poisonous rhetoric took the place of reasoned debate. It went so far that the discussion veered away from what the bill would do and toward veiled and not-so-veiled threats against individuals for their positions on it.
As we grappled with this difficult issue, some decided grabbing headlines was more important than finding a real answer to illegal immigration. The rhetoric around the issue continues to be laced with venom, anger and fear.
Rhetoric will always be a part of political debates, especially on emotionally charged issues. Rhetoric, however, is not policy and as we consider bills, we should look to the affect on the next generation, rather than the next election.
Because the federal government has failed miserably on illegal immigration, I voted for the state bill. The final form of the bill that passed – when you look past all the rhetoric – is a reasoned state response to a failure of the national government.
This contentious issue again will be before the Legislature, and the headline-grabbing rhetoric is already heating up, clouding the issue. It began earlier this year with a policy decision by the Oklahoma Health Care Authority.
The authority voted to allow illegal immigrants who are expectant mothers to get subsidized prenatal care for their unborn children. It is important to remember that these unborn children will be United States citizens upon their birth. I believe it is wrong to hold children accountable for the sins of a parent.
I support this change in policy that protects unborn children and help keep them healthy. For me, it is an extension of my unshakeable “pro-life” belief.
Not only will this policy save lives of unborn children, providing prenatal care for unborn children – who will be U.S. citizens when born – ultimately will save taxpayer dollars. For every dollar spent in prenatal care, we save $1 to $3 in health care costs during the first year of a baby’s life.
It might be good politics to oppose the Health Care Authority’s move. Politics aside, however, the only honest pro-life position is to support their action, which I do and will during the 2008 session.
In this season, we should remember another child – born far away from His parents’ home – who entered this world in a stable “because there was no room for them at the inn.” We must do better by Oklahoma’s children, regardless of their parents’ home. I will always believe Oklahomans are more compassionate than to put politics ahead of innocent children.
Thanks again for reading the “Senate Minute,” have a great week, and may God bless you all.