Undocumented and Pregnant: Why Women Are Afraid to Get Prenatal Care

EDINBURG, Texas — Britani first learned there was something wrong with her pregnancy late one night in July 2019 when she started bleeding and rushed to an emergency room.

The doctor on duty said she had an infection that could cause her to miscarry. Britani agreed to find an obstetrician to treat the problem, knowing that she would not keep her word.

As an undocumented immigrant, Britani, now 20, had no health insurance and could not afford to pay for her treatment in cash. Her only option would be to apply for public benefits, but she had heard from friends that doing so could make her a target for deportation or jeopardize her pending green card application. So she sat tight, hoping the infection would go away on its own.

A few weeks later, Britani shook her husband awake in the middle of the night and told him to get his mother in the next room. They returned to find Britani doubled over in pain, her face wet with tears.

“There’s a lot of blood,” Britani said.

When President Trump unleashed his crackdown on immigration, people without legal status scrambled to erase the traces of their existence to avoid being swept up. They stayed home to hide from aggressive new street arrests. And thousands dropped out of welfare programs to steer clear of a policy that posed a less visible threat. Under an expansion of the limits on “public charge,” the administration said it would withhold legalization for undocumented immigrants who had used certain public benefits.

Though undocumented immigrants are ineligible for most welfare programs and have been shown to use those that are available at lower rates than American citizens, the Trump administration said the expansion was necessary to discourage people who could not support themselves financially from moving to the United States. “Give me your tired and your poor who can stand on their own two feet and who will not become a public charge,” Kenneth T. Cuccinelli II, the acting director of United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, said at the time.

The policy contained exemptions for some vulnerable groups, including pregnant women. But doctors and public health officials say that many undocumented women are convinced nonetheless that their chances of legalization will be diminished, and they worry that immigration officers, who are often seen at hospitals along the border, could target them for deportation.

The result, they say, is an escalating climate of fear that is having disastrous consequences for the health of pregnant women and their babies.

Within days of when the public charge policy became public, followed by wall-to-wall coverage on Spanish-language news outlets and dire warnings on social media, medical clinics saw no-show rates for prenatal care appointments rise sharply. Midwives say that requests for home births from undocumented women who wanted to avoid going to a hospital soared. Doctors said they saw a spike in the number of women arriving in emergency rooms with serious complications, or already in labor, without having

Read more

This St. John’s antique clothing collector has items from the 1800s and isn’t afraid to wear them

Mackenzie Patrick of St. John’s collects antique clothing, a hobby she shares on Instagram with about 1,500 followers. (Submitted by Mackenzie Patrick)

What is the oldest piece of clothing you wear on a regular basis, or has a special place in your life where you just can’t seem to discard it?

For collector Mackenzie Patrick, a geologist who lives in St. John’s, it’s a jacket from 1870. 

Patrick’s collection of vintage clothing holds hundreds of pieces that range from the 1830s to the 1960s. But, it took years before she began to invest in the antique clothing which she says she first fell in love with as a child.

It was during the height of the release of the movie Titanic in 1997, the Hollywood imagining of the sinking of the unsinkable cruise liner, that sparked her interest, at first, in Edwardian-era clothing. 

“I was obsessed with Titanic and the styles. It was just so elegant and feminine,” said Patrick. 

“As a child I wasn’t aware you could actually get antiques, like in this day and age, but I used to actually reproduce the dresses that Rose wore on my Barbie dolls — which is ridiculous, I know.”  

This 1920s ensemble was inspired by Patrick’s career as a geologist. (Submitted by Mackenzie Patrick)

A small club

Patrick said she believes she’s on her own in Newfoundland and Labrador in terms of her collection and hobby, which she shares on Instagram with her 1,500 followers through @lady.elizabeth.vintage. She also takes all of her own photos, with a tripod and self-timer.

She said there are small pockets of like-minded people found elsewhere in the world who focus on different eras, but none of which, that she knows of, are in this province and have a collection that can compete with local museums. 

“It’s a pretty small group of people,” Patrick said.

“I think I’m the only antique clothes collector here locally that I know of. Unless they haven’t found me yet, or I haven’t found them.” 

Patrick even has some antique children’s clothes like this dress, as worn by her daughter, from the early 1900s. (Submitted by Mackenzie Patrick)

Patrick said the community may not even exist in Newfoundland and Labrador at all, something she believes is due to the province’s harsh climate. 

“The climate here is just not conducive for the preservation of clothing. At all. The moist air is not good for clothes. You need to have a special environment in order to preserve that,” she said.

In fact, most of her items come from antique dealers around the world — a large percentage coming from the United States and England.

One private collector in Idaho has been Patrick’s go to source since the beginning. 

“She has the hugest collection, and she will only sell to me,” said Patrick.

“There’s a lot of high-priced items out there, and if you know who to go to, and you wait until the time is right, then you can usually get some good

Read more