A Taiwanese woman who gave birth mid=flight from Taiwan to the United States was deported once her jet flight was re-routed to Alaska and landed. Reportedly 36 months pregnant when she boarded the Taipei-Los Angeles flight, she has been accused of hiding her condition when she boarded her China Airlines flight. Taiwanese regulation prohibit women from flying commercial flights following the 32nd week of pregnancy unless they have physician’s certificate.
The woman asked one of the flight attendants assisting her whether she was in U.S. airspace when her water broke. The mother, who was reportedly 36 weeks pregnant when she boarded, has been accused of hiding her pregnancy from the China Airlines staff in order to give birth in the United Statesl. According to Taiwanese aviation regulations, woman are prohibited from flying after 32 weeks of pregnancy unless they have a certified doctor's note. The incident occurred on October 8.
Fortunately for the mother and baby, there was a physician on board the flight as it winged its way to America at 30,000. Fellow passengers cheered as the healthy baby girl came into the world.
The escape has added some wrinkles to the current debate over immigration and the right to automatic U.S. citizenship for those born in U.S. territory. According to U.S. law, those born within the United States and territories such as Puerto Rico and Guam, or on American vessels or airships, have the right to citizenship, according to the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. However, the fact that the baby now has automatic U.S. citizenship does not mean that she has the right to remain in the U.S. before the age of majority: 21 years. Unless the child has a legal guardian, it may not remain in the U.S., according to a article by immigration attorney Andy Semotiuk.
Once the Taiwanese woman landed in Alaska, she was deported by immigration authorities and returned to Taiwan. However, her baby remained in Alaska and is in the care of officials. In Alaska, officials say that baby is eligible for U.S. citizenship. According to a spokesperson for Alaska’s Department of Social Service, a child born in flight has the right to citizenship if that is where the child first arrives, even if born in international air space.
The incident has stirred debate, not only in the U.S. but in Taiwan as well. In the Taiwanese parliament, legislator Luo Shu-lei told the transportation chief of Taiwan "This is a selfish act," adding, "It was clearly an act carried out to give the child U.S. citizenship. She affected the travel of other passengers. Is there no punishment?"
In addition to being separated from her baby, the new mother may be on the hook for tens of thousands of dollars in medical expenses. While it is insured, on October 24, it was revealed that China Airlines’s insurer is considering whether to charge the so far unidentified woman for the costs related to the baby’s birth and the unscheduled stopover in Alaska. Media reports suggest that the total bill may surpass $32,000. The costs are still being calculated.
The insurance firm of China Airlines will decide whether to ask the unnamed passenger to cover the cost of the stopover to ensure the health of her baby, airline media affairs staffer Weni Lee said Friday. The flight made an emergency landing en route from Taipei to Los Angeles on Oct. 8.