Men Who Don't Want to Pay for Maternity Care Don't Understand the Circle of Life

The XX Factor
What Women Really Think
Nov. 6 2013 1:40 PM

Men Should Pay for Maternity Care Because BABIES

Even if you don't care about women, you should care about babies.

Photo by Marina Dyakonova/iStockphoto/Thinkstock

The Affordable Care Act says that women cannot be charged higher rates for insurance than men are. This has led to predictable carping from Republicans, who think it’s unfair that men are subsidizing services, specifically maternity care, that they will never use. Jonathan Cohn at the New Republic has a good explanation for men about why they should be paying for maternity care: The long-term prosperity of the U.S. depends on healthy citizens, men supply the sperm, it’s just a genetic lottery that made you a man and not a woman, and think of your mother who had to bear you!

Jessica Grose Jessica Grose

Jessica Grose is a frequent Slate contributor and the author of the novel Sad Desk Salad. Follow her on Twitter.

But even if you don’t care at all about the women bearing the children, you should care about live human babies that are going to be born regardless of whether their mothers get adequate prenatal care. And really, really bad things happen to babies whose mothers don’t get adequate prenatal care. 


One-third of all American women will have some kind of pregnancy-related complication, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. When women don’t get adequate prenatal care, those complications don’t get caught and potentially prevented, which is why babies born to mothers who are low-income and uneducated are more likely to have a low birth weight, which can lead to infant health problems like respiratory distress and bleeding in the brain. It can also lead to lifelong health problems, like high blood pressure, heart disease, and diabetes, according to the March of Dimes.

Half of these babies will be male babies, by the way. Some of those boys and their sisters who are born prematurely (which is more likely to happen when mothers aren’t getting adequate prenatal care) cost the United States approximately $26 billion annually, according to a 2006 report from the Institute of Medicine. That’s $51,600 per infant born prematurely (thanks, American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology, for doing that math).

Should we be charging those male babies who were premature more money when they become adults because they cost so much more when they were born? No, because that’s not how insurance works—as Amanda Marcotte pointed out in a post on Tuesday.

What’s more, you can have all the rugged individualist pie-in-the-sky arguments you want about how women are the ones choosing to bear children and men should be able to choose to “opt out” of being dads if they want to—that’s the case a recent piece in Salon made. But if we’re talking about choice here, there are children who didn’t get to choose to be here whose health is in the balance when we have these discussions. And their fate shouldn’t be about political point-scoring. This is one moment where the cliché “think of the children!” actually applies.



Smash and Grab

Will competitive Senate contests in Kansas and South Dakota lead to more late-breaking races in future elections?

Stop Panicking. America Is Now in Very Good Shape to Respond to the Ebola Crisis.

The 2014 Kansas City Royals Show the Value of Building a Mediocre Baseball Team

The GOP Won’t Win Any Black Votes With Its New “Willie Horton” Ad

Sleater-Kinney Was Once America’s Best Rock Band

Can it be again?


Forget Oculus Rift

This $25 cardboard box turns your phone into an incredibly fun virtual reality experience.

One of Putin’s Favorite Oligarchs Wants to Start an Orthodox Christian Fox News

These Companies in Japan Are More Than 1,000 Years Old

Trending News Channel
Oct. 20 2014 6:17 PM Watch Flashes of Lightning Created in a Lab  
  News & Politics
Oct. 20 2014 8:14 PM You Should Be Optimistic About Ebola Don’t panic. Here are all the signs that the U.S. is containing the disease.
Oct. 20 2014 7:23 PM Chipotle’s Magical Burrito Empire Keeps Growing, Might Be Slowing
Oct. 20 2014 3:16 PM The Catholic Church Is Changing, and Celibate Gays Are Leading the Way
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 20 2014 6:17 PM I Am 25. I Don't Work at Facebook. My Doctors Want Me to Freeze My Eggs.
  Slate Plus
Tv Club
Oct. 20 2014 7:15 AM The Slate Doctor Who Podcast: Episode 9 A spoiler-filled discussion of "Flatline."
Brow Beat
Oct. 20 2014 9:13 PM The Smart, Talented, and Utterly Hilarious Leslie Jones Is SNL’s Newest Cast Member
Oct. 21 2014 8:38 AM An Implanted Wearable Gadget Isn’t as Crazy as You’d Think Products like New Deal Design’s UnderSkin may be the future.
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Oct. 21 2014 7:00 AM Watch the Moon Eat the Sun: The Partial Solar Eclipse on Thursday, Oct. 23
Sports Nut
Oct. 20 2014 5:09 PM Keepaway, on Three. Ready—Break! On his record-breaking touchdown pass, Peyton Manning couldn’t even leave the celebration to chance.