Could Women Game Italy's Pay-For-Babies System?S

An Italian region has decided to pay women about $300 a month not to have abortions — but what if some women get a little crafty?

According to CNN, the region of Lombardy has created a $6.1 million fund to convince women not to abort. When they come to abortion clinics, low-income women will be offered a payment of $306 every month for 18 months if they carry their pregnancies to term. The move isn't just to prevent abortions — Lombardy also wants to increase its birth rate, and apparently thinks this is a good way to go about doing so. Monetary incentives for having more kids aren't new — Russia tried that one a while back — but actually offering money at abortion clinics is a fresh, weird twist.

Given that there's no way to prove you actually want an abortion, it seems possible for women intending to continue their pregnancies to visit abortion clinics simply to collect the monthly payout. Whether anyone would actually try this probably depends on how unpleasant it is to visit such a clinic at all in a region that also recently decided to ban RU-486. In any case, scamming couldn't become terribly widespread, as the fund only has enough money for about a thousand women.

However, the potential abuse just highlights how poorly Lombardy's chosen to address women's economic insecurity. If it's true, as Lombardy's health department says, that it most women who get abortions in the region do so for economic reasons, then clearly women and families do need help with the monetary aspects of child-rearing. But as Beth Saunders points out on RH Reality Check, raising a child takes a lot longer than 18 months. And bribing women with a small payout isn't the same as actually empowering them to make their own reproductive decisions. Of course, it's cynical to suggest that women might game Lombardy's system to make a little extra cash — but the region's pay-for-babies idea is cynical to begin with. And in terms of actually improving women's ability to raise families when they're ready, it's unlikely to work.

Image via Supri Suharjoto/Shutterstock.com.

Italian Region To Pay Women Not To Have Abortions [CNN]
Women In Italy To Be Offered €4,500 To Not Have Abortions [TimesOnline]
Roundup: Anti-Abortion Payout In Italy [RH Reality Check]