U.S. abortion politics: Senate Bill would pay teens to have babies

Blogger Smintheus writing at Unbossed.com throws light on a new twist in the effort to write passable health reform legislation. Senate Dems, concerned that the laws they are seeking to pass will restrict abortion and force women to carry pregnancies to term, have agreed to pay women to have unwanted babies. Under the plan the government would provide $25 million a year for a “pregnancy assistance fund,” which would finance “maternity and baby clothing, baby food, baby furniture and similar items,” according to the New York Times.

In sociological terms, teen pregnancy is a disaster. It drives income and education and skill levels down. It sustains an underclass. The U.S. already has the highest teen pregnancy rate in the industrialized world. (Colorado has the 22nd highest teenage pregnancy rate of any state.) Now the plan is to incentivizing the nation’s teens to have kids.


Levy and Bristol: They split up.
Levy and Bristol: They split up.

Soreheads might object that the legislation will effectively help to force some poor women to bear children they can’t or don’t want to rear. Fortunately, Senate Democrats are sensitive to that charge and have thoughtfully added provisions to sweeten the deal for these poor put upon women. They’re going to pay them to have the babies:

In what they described as an effort to reduce the demand for abortion, Democrats would provide money to help pregnant teenagers and new mothers so that they could stay in high school and attend college.

The federal government would provide $25 million a year for a “pregnancy assistance fund.” The money could be used for “maternity and baby clothing, baby food, baby furniture and similar items,” the proposal says.

The provision to subsidize the babies for young girls was added, you won’t be surprised to learn, by that notorious abortion scold, Sen. Robert Casey. The sole purpose of the subsidies is to reduce the number of abortions. In his press release, Casey proudly points to the support his provision receives from various conservative Christian groups (“faith leaders”) – because, evidently, their opinions on health care matter more than those of the rest of us.

Oddly enough, however, he says nothing at all about what he or they make of the most astounding aspect of this provision: It encourages teenage pregnancy by offering financial rewards to pregnant teens.

… Pregnancies carry significantly higher medical risks for teenagers. You might expect the federal government to want to continue its longstanding efforts to reduce teen pregnancies. But you wouldn’t have counted on the dauntless Bob Casey, who found a way to use health care negotiations to reverse course and actually encourage teens to have babies by subsidizing them.

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