Saturday, March 17, 2012

Introducing REPRIMAND/Paternity: Noncustodial and deadbeat dads must pay half of all pregnancy and neonatal costs.

According to a 2007 report from the Dept. of Health and Human services, the average medical cost for a pregnancy was $7600.  Even if your insurance covers all medical aspects of pregnancy, you will still have an out-of-pocket cost of up to $1000 due to deductibles and co-payments.  Now add in the cost of maternity clothes, nine-months of increased food consumption, and out-of-pocket costs for vitamins, anti-acids, etc., and over nine months you will still spend thousands of dollars.  This doesn't even include everything you have to buy, beg or borrow for when the baby comes home.    

In 2010, 15% of American's were poor, as defined by the US Census bureau. This means that for a single mother with one child, the household income is under $15,200 per year.  Most of us can't fathom how a mother making so little can possibly provide for herself, let alone her child.  After the baby is born, that mother can save a little money through child-tax credits, and if she can find a lawyer, she might be able to sue the birth father for child support (although some estimates show that only 10% of poor birth fathers actually pay support).  How does she recover from the huge financial burden she bore in the nine months leading up to birth?   Even mothers above the official poverty line are financially stricken, and after pregnancy, they are financially ruined.  There are millions of sweet, innocent American children growing up in abject poverty.  How are they supposed to grow up to be tomorrow's future if their mothers aren't sure how they will make it through today?   To really see how bleak the situation is, read this article on how bad things are for poor black children.  

You can make all sorts of arguments as to why this situation should never have happened.  Women shouldn't have premarital sex.  Remember, "abstinence only" works, right...?   The man should have worn a condom.  Of course, it is hard to make sure men know their part in safe sex when the GOP wants to remove sex-ed from school.  The mother should have been on birth control.  That is difficult when you are uninsured or on medicaid, and the GOP is fighting to make it impossible to access contraceptives.  The mother should have aborted the baby.  Good luck with that one thanks to the GOP's war on women.  

In this political climate, there is only one solution.  The REPRIMAND/Paternity (REquired Pregnancy Reimbursment IMen AbandoN Duties of Paternity) law will require that noncustodial or deadbeat birth fathers pay mothers back for half of all costs associated with the pregnancy up to and including neonatal expenses.  Tell your State and Federal lawmakers to either pass REPRIMAND/Paternity laws, or go to sleep at night knowing that they are abandoning millions of children.

We can't claim complete ownership of this idea, by the way.  Oklahoma State Senator Jim Murray offered a version of this idea as an amendment to an anti-abortion piece of legislation.  We've thanked him for his hard work, and you should too!

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