In Australia, everyone who gives birth gets a $5000 “baby bonus.” The government also gives $5000 to the women whose children are stillborn, because telling a family that they’ve lost their baby and following up with “We need to talk about that subsidy” is a bit insensitive. The problem is that stillbirth is defined in a way that includes some late-term abortions! The issue was first raised two years ago, but so far the government’s attempts to close the loophole have fallen short:
In August 2008, Families Minister Jenny Macklin said she would close the loophole, after initially denying it existed. It took until early 2009 to distribute the new forms the Government said clarified whether there was a stillbirth or an abortion.
The new form means a doctor or midwife must certify a child was “delivered” to confirm the baby was not aborted.
Senator Bernardi questioned the effectiveness of the term “delivered” in distinguishing between stillbirth and abortion.
The Australian Medical Association agrees there can still be confusion.
It goes without saying that the law creates some pretty perverse incentives. The AMA president says he is unaware of any cases in which someone deliberately got pregnant and then had a late-term abortion to get the $5000, which is some comfort. But this loophole also incentivizes people who become pregnant unexpectedly to get an abortion. Further, women who are already set on aborting may delay the abortion until 20 weeks, at which time the physical risks to the mother are much higher and the baby may be able to feel pain.