The United States is the most expensive place in the world to bring a baby to term.
Many healthcare plans that are not provided by employers don’t include coverage for pre-natal health services. According to an article in the New York Times 62% of women whose private healthcare is not employer based are in this situation. Moreover, the health insurance industry is shifting more health care costs to premium holders with higher co-pays and deductible and they exclude many pregnancy related services.
Even under the “ideal” circumstances in which the expectant couple is married, the pregnancy was a result of mutual consent, and both parents have well-paying jobs, the medical expenses that go with bringing a pregnancy to term are substantial.
Between 2004 and 2010, the costs increased by 49% for vaginal births and 41% for caesarian births. Just for the birth itself, women paid out of pocket $1686 for a vaginal birth and $1948 for C-sections.
According to a report by Truven Health Analytics, the average cost of bring a pregnancy to term is $32,093 for vaginal births, $51,125 for caesarian births. On average, commercial non-employer based insurers pay $18,329 for pregnancy related serviced including vaginal births and $27,866 for pregnancy related services including caesarian births.
The average annual income in 2010 was $50,221 (though it varied from state to state.) The average wage the following year dropped substantially to $26,364. In other words, it would take the average American wage earner two years just to pay the health related expenses that come with pregnancy – let alone the other expenses and the expenses that come with raising a child.
For victims of rape, this amounts to paying a substantial cost for being a victim of a violent crime.
Contrary to Republican denials, rapes result in pregnancies every year. The statistics on just how many vary, in part because the definition of rape varies. The study most frequently cited on this question says that 5% of rapes result in pregnancy. Of course that study was published in 1996, so the percentage of pregnancies resulting from rape today may be differ.
Moreover, since rape is under reported we can assume that some of those rapes resulted in pregnancy, but we really can’t know with certainty how many. Rape remains a crime in the United States even if there is an increased tendency to blame the victim. Add the fact that 31 states have laws protecting the rapist’s “right” to visit and even have custody of the children that Republicans either say can’t be a result of rape or as Trent Franks suggested the odds are very low.
Obviously, if a rapist has a right to visit the child, it means that pregnancy can result from rape and it means that the rapist is acknowledges the child was conceived because of rape. With that acknowledgement comes a legal obligation to provide for the child. (In some states, like Maryland, if a child mother takes legal action to hold the father financially responsible for their child, the father’s biological ties to the child must be proven with a DNA test.) It seems logical that legal obligation that comes with being a parent should commence at the moment of “personhood”
Within the context of rape, it seems that the costs associated with bringing “their” child to term should be born by the rapist. We need a law that either includes a sentencing guideline that requires the rapist to pay restitution for the financial costs of being his child, or provides the rape victim/mother with a basis to sue the rapist/father to compensate her for these costs.
Republicans are of the view that rape doesn’t result in pregnancy but when it does it’s a blessing, a gift from God, , just another method of conception and women should make lemonade or something. Pregnancy also results in financial costs – if not at the moment of conception, shortly thereafter.
Republicans claim the purpose behind TRAP laws that result in shutting down reproductive health clinics are in the name of protecting women from their emotional decisions, eliminating the burden of making medical decisions from the doctor and above all else protecting that the precious life in the womb. They would do the children that are a blessing resulting from just another method of conception a great service by passing a law that also lifts the financial burden from the victim to the rapist.
It’s surprising that these concerned Republicans haven’t considered the financial costs that go with prenatal care and delivering the life they claim to care so much about. They also overlooked the fact that forcing a woman who was raped to carry her rapist’s child to term imposes a hefty financial penalty or fine on the victim of a crime, which sort of flies in the face of their law and order stance.
It’s time for a law that requires a rapist to provide their victims with restitution to compensate for the financial costs that come with carrying the rapist’s child to term.
This law would comply with the conservative value of personal responsibility. If one is a parent, they have a moral and legal obligation to provide for their child who Republicans assert is a person at the moment of conception.
Since Republicans really prefer boilerplate laws drafted by ALEC the time has come for ALEC to get busy with a new law that codifies the rapist/father’s responsibility for their child’s life from the moment of conception.
Obviously, it would be much better if Republicans actually recognized that the Supreme Court ruled on reproductive rights decades ago. Even if they disagree with the Supreme Court, it would be better if they were at least aware of the reality that women do get pregnant resulting of rape and nothing about it is lemonade. The costs are physical, psychological and if forced to carry their rapist’s child to term, there is a substantial financial cost – that begins at the moment of conception.
Penetrating the Republican mind with facts about rape has thus far proven impossible. In their minds, rape is a blessing, just another method of conception. They do seem to understand money, so perhaps we may get somewhere with them if we discuss the financial costs that come with pregnancies resulting from rape. Perhaps they might even comprehend, that the extensive costs that come with forcing women to carry their rapist’s child, actually amounts to punishing the victim.
I’ll grant there are many problems that come with a law requiring rapists to pay for the costs of their child from the moment of conception. For one thing, it overlooks the fact that the violent crime of rape is about asserting power over the victim. It is not a date gone bad, or the result of people lacking the ability to control their sexual urges. Arguably, pregnancies that result from an absence of contraceptives and with the consent of both parties can be prevented if women kept their legs closed (and men kept their pants zipped). In the case of pregnancies resulting from rape (meaning conception without the women’s consent), it seems logical that if personal responsibility for “bad choices” applies to the rape victim, it should also apply to the rapist,
It’s a far cry from accepting that women have a constitutional right to make their own healthcare decisions. It doesn’t address the fact that state intervention on reproductive matters also interferes with a doctor’s ability to make medical decisions and given medical advice to their patients based on science instead of ideology. For the sake of argument, let’s assume that all unwanted pregnancies can be prevented if women simply keep their legs closed and let’s assume that taking the pregnancy to term is about facing the consequences for “bad choices or decisions”. Doesn’t that apply to the rapist as well? Should rapists face the consequences that come with failing to keep their pants zipped?
If, as Republicans say, they support personal responsibility, they should support a law that requires rapists to take financial responsibility for the life that Republicans say should have personhood status from the moment of conception.
Ms. Woodbury has a graduate degree in political science, with a minor in law. She is a qualified expert on political theory with a specific interest in the nexus between political theories and models and human rights.
Based on her interest in human rights and the threats that authoritarian regimes are to them, Ms. Woodbury’s masters thesis examined the influence of politics on the enforcement of international criminal law was cited in several academic studies.
Published work includes case summaries for the War Crimes Research Office.
She has an extensive background doing legal research in international and domestic law.
Ms. Woodbury’s work for politicusUSA includes articles on voting rights, the right to asylum and other civil/human rights.