South Carolina Legislator Wants The State To Pay Rent On Uteruses For Forced Births
It is not often that we can get too excited about any legislation coming out of South Carolina. Especially if we are talking about laws concerning abortion. And yet, state Sen. Mia McLeod has come out with what I believe is the actual greatest bill of all time, in the history of the world — The Pro-Birth Accountablity Act.
As you may know, legislators in South Carolina have been pushing for a bill that would outlaw abortion after six weeks (before many people even know they are pregnant), with no rape and incest exceptions. They simply cannot wait to give rapists a two-for-one deal on exerting power over their victims.
In response to this, Sen. McLeod pre-filed a bill on Wednesday proposing they put their money where their mouths are and pay the people they plan to force to give birth against their will.
It's so good. It's just so good.
The gist of SB 928 is that because those they want to force to have babies are essentially acting as gestational surrogates for the state of South Carolina, they need to pay them like they are being surrogates for the state of South Carolina — which, McLeod helpfully notes, "cannot itself physically conceive or carry a child."
The text of the bill notes that "as a matter of constitutional law, a state may not force a citizen to serve in any capacity without fair payment or to take a citizen's property without just compensation" and that "in the surrogacy market, a woman's uterus is not unlike rental property, as a commissioning couple agrees to pay a gestational surrogate certain compensation."
Therefore, McLeod concludes, "just as South Carolina may not constitutionally use a citizen's rental property without just compensation, it may not constitutionally require a woman to incubate a child without appropriate compensation."
DAMN. Not all heroes wear capes, indeed. Though I will bet you Mia McLeod does, on account of how she seems pretty fashionable and capes are awesome. This is not even the first time she has been this awesome — in 2016 she attempted to pass a law imposing the same restrictions on Viagra as on abortions.
Now, for people without insurance, the average cost of a vaginal delivery and newborn care with no complications is $32,093. For a Cesarean, that number goes up to $51,125. Even with insurance, it's not that great — the average payout is $10,000. It's far more expensive than in other countries, with the added bonus of the fact that you are more likely to die here during childbirth. Especially if you are a black woman. You'd think for all that money, it would be safer, but no.
This is stupid to begin with. Even those who want a child should not start out on that journey with a massive pile of medical debt, and that is one reason for why we really, really need some Medicare For All in our lives. But forcing people who do not want to give birth to not only give birth but to pay that much money or go into debt for the privilege? That is appalling. If South Carolina wants the babies so much, they should damn well pay for them.
Writing for Rewire, Imani Gandi notes:
The compensation suggested in the legislation includes reasonable living, legal, medical, psychological, and psychiatric expenses that are directly related to prenatal, intrapartal, and postpartal periods. In addition, upon detection of a fetal heartbeat, a pregnant person may claim the fetus as a child for purposes of federal or state income tax credits or deductions.
YES. But it does not stop there. The state must also make the pregnant person automatically eligible for SNAP, WIC, TANF and other social programs up until the child's 18th birthday. Not only that, but the state must also pay for a specially trained nurse to make home visits from the beginning of the pregnancy through the child's second birthday. The state would also be required to pay for all of the child's healthcare until they turn 18, and if the father is unknown, they must pay child support until that time as well.
Also, if the pregnant person becomes injured or disabled during labor, the state is responsible for taking care of their medical care as well. If the child is mentally or physically disabled, same deal.
They also have to pay for the child's college education.
These are, of course, mostly all things that I think the government should do anyway. I believe everyone should have health care and that public colleges should be free. I also think that we need more support for new parents, just in general. But this is what's fair. Quite frankly, I think the government should also be paying for pain and suffering, because being pregnant and having a baby is not exactly a swell time.
If the government steals your house by declaring eminent domain, they have to give you "just compensation" for that. The fact that they should be able to declare eminent domain over your uterus without offering any kind of compensation is absolute bullshit. If they want to use anyone's uterus as an incubator, they better be ready to pay for it.
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Robyn Pennacchia is a brilliant, fabulously talented and visually stunning angel of a human being, who shrugged off what she is pretty sure would have been a Tony Award-winning career in musical theater in order to write about stuff on the internet. Follow her on Twitter at @RobynElyse