Lancaster hospital considers catering to pregnant foreigners

A financially troubled Southern California hospital has come up with a controversial way to make some extra money - market its birthing center to wealthy foreigners.

Antelope Valley Hospital in Lancaster, north of Los Angeles, is considering the idea, believing it could draw affluent couples from other countries. Chinese couples may want to come here because of the country's one-child policy - others to give their child U.S. citizenship.

Any baby born here automatically becomes an American citizen.

The idea has stirred some anger. George Runner, a member of the state Board of Equalization, who represents an area that includes Lancaster, called the idea immoral and unethical.

"I think it's just wrong from a lot of angles," Runner said. "One is, citizenship shouldn't be a commodity that is somehow brokered and marketed out there. And there's really only one reason why it is that it would be even attractive try to market it, and that is because of U.S. citizenship. There are plenty of places right now where wealthy Chinese can go ahead and have babies, whether it be Singapore or Hong Kong. So, the idea of having that available to them to come to the U.S. primarily for the purpose of citizenship, so that therefore a public hospital, a community hospital, could therefore make some money, just is just wrong."

Runner said he has talked with hospital board members and has written them asking them to drop the idea. Board members say that it's just one idea to try to make enough money to keep investors from taking over the hospital.