A Culture of Life Issue

Two pro-life leaders put forward a pro-natal, pro-family proposal

The cost of an uncomplicated birth, even for parents with employer-provided health insurance, has gotten way out of hand. The situation screams for proposed solutions, and so the leaders of two pro-life organizations have offered one. Catherine Glenn Foster, President & CEO of Americans United for Life, and Kristen Day, Executive Director of Democrats for Life of America, have authored and are now promoting “Make Birth Free: A Vision for Congress to Empower American Mothers, Families, and Communities.”

I know what you’re thinking: more “free” stuff! Considering all the “free money” thrown to the winds during the COVID scare, and all the talk about federal student-loan forgiveness, the American taxpayer is understandably fed up with giveaways. But before tuning out Foster and Day’s “Make Birth Free” proposal, consider these points:

  • “The average cost of childbirth in the United States is nearly $19,000, and even privately insured mothers will likely pay more than $3,000 out-of-pocket simply for delivery.” To repeat, these figures are for uncomplicated births. Interventions will cost more.
  • “Given the average cost of childbirth and the approximately 3.6 million annual births in the United States, a basic program to Make Birth Free would cost about $68 billion. But 42% of U.S. births are already financed through Medicaid, meaning that only $39.5 billion of that amount would be new spending. (This is approximately equal to the amount spent in 2022 to modernize transit.)”
  • A federal Make Birth Free program could also correct perverse incentives in the current system: e.g., “the more physicians are paid for C-sections compared to vaginal delivery, the higher the c-section rate,” even though C-sections entail more complications.
  • High costs that deter women from seeking maternity care contribute to maternal mortality in the United States, “which is far higher than peer countries that spend more on mothers and infants. The U.S. maternal mortality rate in 2020 was 23.8 deaths per 100,000 live births, while Canada’s was only 8.3.”
  • “Make Birth Free enables mothers to make the choice for life,” as “women rank concerns about financial preparedness as their top reason for choosing abortion.”
  • Many health insurance plans cover contraceptives and even abortion, but not childbirth. This is “economic coercion.”
  • As a first step, lawmakers could exempt birth-related expenses from insurance-plan deductibles and co-pays, “much as preventative care is.”

Read it all. The link to Foster and Day’s white paper: https://aul.org/wp-content/uploads/2023/01/Make-Birth-Free-White-Paper.pdf


Barbara E. Rose is Web Editor of the NOR.

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