Texas State Senator Dan Patrick introduced a bill earlier this month that would legalize "human trafficking", at least that's how Pat Mitchell Executive Director of the Center for Choice in Mobile, Alabama sees it.
SB 1567, referred to the Texas Senate Health and Human Services Committee last week, proposes to pay a pregnant woman $500 to carry her pregnancy to term and then give the baby up for adoption.
But Senator Patrick has no visions of charity, no deep-hearted faith in the beauty of adoption. This bill is one more smoke-and-mirror trick for an anti-choice fanatic desperate to deflect attention away from his true mission of crushing women's basic human rights (emphasis mine):
The program must include a $500 payment to each woman who is a resident of this state and a citizen of the United States who places a child for adoption rather than have an abortion.
This "incentive" is not for women who have already chosen to give their babies up for adoption. This program equally does not apply to women who have decided to keep their babies and parent. In fact, this program is only for women who choose adoption over abortion and who can convince the Brazil-like bureaucrat that this is so. According to the bill (again, emphasis mine):
Sec. 50.004. PAYMENT OF FUNDS. (a) The department shall process each application for funds under this chapter to determine whether the woman is eligible. If the woman is eligible for funds, the department shall make the payment to the woman not later than the 60th day after the date the woman's parental rights are terminated.
Putting aside the idiocy of infusing a government bureaucrat with the inalienable right to discern which women are "deserving" of the government's pay-out—that is, which women were truly going to have an abortion and which ones weren't—this bill is utterly disturbing for what it's not, more than for what it is.
What isn't this bill?
This bill is not desperately needed help for the skyrocketing number of Texan mothers who are struggling to raise their children in poverty.
According to a 2006 Kids Count study, child poverty in Texas continues to rise for the fourth year in a row; contributing to an increase in the number of infants who die before their first birthday.
I'm not sure about Senator Patrick's sense of familial responsibility, but most families want their children to live past their first birthday. I'd venture to say that most of his constituents would rather he actively pursue legislation designed to build ladders to the sky, if need be, to ensure that no more babies die as a result of poverty in his state.
Senator Patrick would rather construct a cartoonish homage to his blind anti-choice zealotry, a slap in the face to his constituents who struggle each and every day to put food on the table, a roof over their children's heads and pray never to get sick.
How about paying mothers (or fathers) to raise their children? How about raising the minimum wage so women who work full-time and parent can actually support their families? How about making sure that mothers and fathers in Texas can raise their children free from poverty, hunger and homelessness without having to work two or three jobs to do so?
Texas also, unsurprisingly, has the largest population without health insurance in the nation. One in five children are uninsured and approximately one-third of all adults go without insurance.
A true advocate for life would surely want to ensure that all children receive medical care when they need it; that pregnant women have access to pre-, peri-, and post-natal care no matter their ability to pay. This bill does nothing for those women or children.
Paying pregnant women $500 to put their babies up for adoption does not provide protection for the uninsured; it does not put food in the mouths of hungry children; and it definitely does not help to lower poverty rates or generally better the lives of Texans in any way. Anti-choice bills like this can be called distractions. But I believe they are more nefarious than that. Bills like this take the focus off of the underlying issues and tie our hands and minds, if even for a day or a week (if we're lucky). The seemingly endless stream of illogical and politically-motivated anti-choice bills prevent us from dealing with the fundamental forces that keep women and children living in unacceptable conditions, constantly fighting for the basic rights we deserve.