Prenatal care debate divides Nebraska Republicans

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LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) -- Two of the most explosive political issues in Nebraska -- immigration and the health of unborn children -- are colliding as lawmakers move forward with a bill to restore prenatal care for illegal immigrants.

The debate has divided Nebraska lawmakers between those who view the potential dangers to children as the most pressing concern and those who say the measure rewards illegal behavior. Some fiscal conservatives say the proposal -- which would cost the state $650,000 per year -- would more than offset the expense of emergency births and hospital stays.

Opponents say the measure could attract more illegal immigrants. Gov. Dave Heineman assailed the bill Wednesday, one day after it won first-round legislative approval, and took shots at Speaker Mike Flood, a fellow Republican and backer of the bill.