San Gabriel Shuts Down Makeshift Maternity Ward Catering to ‘Birthing Tourism’

Ching-Ching Ni, Los Angeles Times, March 24, 2011

From the outside, they were typical Southern Californian townhouses with bright white walls and Spanish tile roofs.

But inside, a new kind of international business thrived–maternity wards for wealthy expectant mothers from across the Pacific.

For a fee, Chinese women received room and board and a chance to deliver their babies in the United States and become mothers to instant U.S. citizens.

Southern California has become a hub for this growing phenomenon, known as birthing tourism.

One such business was busted earlier this month when code enforcement officials from the city of San Gabriel responded to a complaint about noise and an unusual number of pregnant women in a quiet Palm Avenue neighborhood.

When officials went to the location, they found about 10 mothers and seven newborns living in three townhouses that had been illegally converted into maternity wards.

{snip}

“They had moved walls around without proper permits; they did interior work that can sometimes create unsafe environments afterward,” Davis [Jennifer Davis, community development director for the city of San Gabriel.] said. “And it’s a business in a residential neighborhood. They are not permitted to operate there.”

{snip}

tourism

Former birthing center.

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