In these glorious United States, $500 will get you 500 Wendy’s Frosties, 500 cups of drip coffee from Sweet Sinsations or 500 delightfully tacky and embarrassingly useful items from the dollar store. In Texas, an arguably less glorious united state, $500 will also get you these same things, albeit the Frosties will be bigger and the dollar store items tackier. But $500 Texan dollars can buy you something a little more interesting: the charming experience of giving birth to a baby you don’t want.
Daniel Patrick, a Republican senator from Texas, is the author of S.B. 1567, which introduces the idea that Texas women seeking abortions should, instead, be offered the incentive of $500 to carry their babies to term so they can be given up for adoption by the state. Patrick was quoted in the Houston Chronicle saying, “We want that lady to have an incentive that makes her stop and think about having an abortion and that gives her a reason to put her baby up for adoption.” Apparently, for Patrick, $500 is enough.
I’m no history major, but I’m pretty sure the buying and selling of humans has been banned since Reconstruction, what with slavery being the most evil thing on the planet and all. I’m not necessarily likening this bill to slavery, but to offer a woman the chance to fill out a form, get $500, and then hand her child over to the state reeks of baby selling. Probably because it IS baby selling.
The proposed bill also stipulates that the state would distribute the forms solely to abortion providers.
I may also not be a math major, but I’m going to go out on a limb here and say I think there are a few problems with all of this, which, according to simple mathematical principles and certain calculations, all add up to a big ol’ pile of crazy.
Problem #1: This is, as I’ve already mentioned, against the law. Selling humans is against the law in Texas, and all the other states, too. What Patrick is suggesting is that a human life in Texas is for sale and is worth $500. Without getting into the semantics of what constitutes a life vs. a fetus or any of the other, deeper questions that are at the heart of the abortion debate, this is the essence of the bill. And even though Patrick is advocating a pro-life view, the fruits of his legislation would see babies and bucks exchanging hands.
Problem #2: This makes no sense. The only people who can get the money are women who have already proven, in their visit to the abortion clinic, that they don’t want a baby. And if you don’t want a baby, the state will give you $500 bucks just to have the baby, but only if you truly don’t want it. That Catch-22 – it’ll get you every time.
Problem #3: This is a very slippery slope. And at the bottom of the slope there is a huge pile of money, babies and the cast-aside morals of certain Texas legislators. How will this bill be funded and regulated? According to the census bureau, women in Texas obtained 89,160 abortions in 2000. If this new legislation was to pass, the state of Texas, i.e. Texan taxpayers, would need to be able to pay out more than $44 million to women who decided to take their half a grand and carry to term.
Besides, the possibilities for fraud are endless. Poverty rates in northern Texas and along the Mexican border are some of the highest in the country. If I needed some extra cash, who’s to say I couldn’t just waddle into a clinic, fill out the form, sell my kid for $500 and then adopt him right back?
And then I could buy him a Frosty and a delightfully tacky yet embarrassingly useful toy (or 500 of them) at the dollar store.
Hilary Davis is a senior technical journalism major. Her column appears in the Collegian on Fridays. Replies and feedback can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.