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Taiwanese Mother Who Gave Birth on US Flight Deported, Baby Stays in US

First Posted: Oct 26, 2015 12:47 PM EDT
China Southern Airlines

Photo : Qilai Shen/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A Taiwanese woman who gave birth on a U.S.-bound international flight could face a hefty fine for forcing the plane to make an emergency landing in Alaska.

The woman -- who has only been identified by her surname, Jian -- was flying from Taiwan to Los Angeles on a China Airlines flight when she went into labor on Oct. 8. With the help of flight attendants and fellow passengers, which happened to include a doctor, the woman delivered a healthy baby before the flight made an emergency landing in Alaska, reports The New York Daily News.

However, the story of her miracle baby born in mid-air has a sour twist as the mother has been accused of purposefully trying to give her child American citizenship. According to The China Times, the woman told the airline she was was less than 32 weeks pregnant when she was really 36 weeks pregnant. She did that in order to bypass Taiwanese law which requires passengers to get medical approval if they have passed the 32nd week mark in their pregnancy.

Local media also report that Jian refused to lay down to give birth. Taiwan's China Times newspaper's website also states that she repeatedly asked the cabin crew, "Are we in U.S. air space?" before she gave birth. (Those comments have not been verified.)

Now it is up to the insurance firm of China Airlines to decide whether to bill the mother to cover the cost of the stopover, airline media affairs staffer Weni Lee said Friday. Taiwanese media have estimated the cost at $33,000, but the airline has yet to confirm the total amount, reports CBS News.

Meanwhile, some Taiwan officials in parliament say that the woman should pay for diverting the flight.

"This is a selfish act," ruling party legislator Luo Shu-lei shouted to the transportation minister during a session Monday. "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?"

Alaska state officials confirmed that the baby is eligible for U.S. citizenship since the child was born in flight. Susan Morgan, spokeswoman for the Alaska Department of Social Services, stated that the baby has the right to be a U.S. citizen if that is where the child first arrives.

However, the woman was sent back home on Saturday, without the baby since infants are not allowed to fly before they are 14 days old. The child is currently under the care of state authorities in Alaska.

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