For the first time in the United States of America, more specifically in the state of Utah, parents will be asked to pay part of the costs of medical costs of pregnancy, including the delivery of the baby. For critics, this measure allegedly in favor of women does not respond to the real needs of pregnant women in the United States.
Utah’s Shared Medical Expenses Act, signed on March 16, aims to decrease the financial burden of pregnancy on women and increase the responsibility of birth parents.
For American women with health insurance, giving birth can cost an average of 3,800 euros, according to a study published by the medical magazine Health Affairs that analyzed the medical expenses of pregnant women between 2008 and 2015. For those who are not insured, this number can more than double and exceed nine thousand euros, according to the American organization Fair Health.
However, if the child’s paternity is at issue, the parents may postpone payments until the doubts are cleared up and if the woman does not seek assistance, the father will not be required to pay either.
In addition, this financial responsibility does not apply if the woman wants to terminate the pregnancy. Birth parents will not be required to contribute to the costs of an abortion if it is done without their consent, except in cases of rape or in situations where the mother’s life is at risk. The cost of an uninsured abortion is approximately 845 euros, according to the organization Planned Parenthood.
The law, which will be in effect from May 5, was unanimously approved.
Praised by some and criticized by others
Although the bill was presented as an attempt to adequately respond to maternal health care needs, some critics admit that this new legislation will harm the most vulnerable women and expose them to even more dangerous abusive situations.
About 324,000 pregnant women are abused every year in the United States, according to data from the American Association of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Domestic abuse tends to increase during pregnancy and this measure may compel women to endure dangerous situations in order to guarantee the financial support they need.
For the spokeswoman for the organization Planned Parenthood in America, responsible for half of the abortions performed in the country, Katrina Barker, this is not the best approach to respond to the interests of women. Despite supporting the obligation for parents to contribute financially, he said there are more effective ways to help women.
“Extend the Medicaid program [sistema de saúde dos Estados Unidos para famílias e indivíduos com baixos rendimentos e recursos limitados], increasing health insurance coverage, ensuring equitable access to health care and granting paid maternity leave are just some of the ways that policy makers can do much more, “Katrina Baker told NBC.
Republican Congressman Brady Brammer admitted to supporting the bill because he was frustrated by the number of anti-abortion measures that were going through the Senate and also wanting to promote legislation that would make it easier to bring life to the world.
“We want to help people and be pro-life in the way we do it, as opposed to anti-abortion,” said the Republican. “One way to do this is to decrease the weight of pregnancy [para as mulheres]”stated at a press conference.
Although the aim of this new law is not to reduce the number of abortions in Utah, Brammer admitted that it could happen, as do anti-abortion activists who believe that this measure will protect the lives of unborn children. Merrilee Boyack, president of the Utah Abortion Free coalition, admitted to being hopeful that abortions in the region would decrease, due to the easing of economic pressures on mothers.
“Anything we can do to support women in these circumstances will help them give birth to their babies, feel good about that choice and feel supported along the way,” Boyack told NBC.
However, Katrina Barker, of the association responsible for half of the abortions performed in the country, admitted that pregnancy assistance will do little to alleviate the financial burden of having a child in the US, because the costs of pregnancy are typically small compared to those costs of a child’s education.
“Having a child and raising it to adulthood is much more expensive than having an abortion,” recalled Barker.
According to a 2015 report by the United States Department of Agriculture, the average cost of raising a child is almost 200,000 euros, excluding the cost of college, for a middle-income family.
Abortion in the USA
In January 1973, the United States Supreme Court ruled in a 7 to 2 vote that the right to safe abortion was a constitutional right. Since the historic decision that abortion became legal up to 24 weeks in the 50 states of the country, however, women’s access to this procedure differs from state to state, each of which can regulate and limit it as well to understand.
Since then, several states are legislating in order to hinder access to abortion, with demands, for example, at the level of the type of clinic where these procedures can be performed. Between 2010 and 2016, US states approved 338 new restrictions on abortion, which represents almost 30% of the total of 1143 restrictions approved since the 1973 decision, according to the Guttmacher Institute.
However, different state attempts to ban abortion have been declared unconstitutional by the courts. So far, none have been implemented.
According to the Guttmacher Institute, a research organization in favor of access to abortion, 24% of women in the United States will have had at least one abortion by age 45. Of these women, almost half live below the federal poverty line.
Abortion in the USA has been a theme that has divided the country for many years. Many Americans are against this practice, while many argue that this is a right that all women should benefit from.
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