The governor of the Lombardy province of northern Italy introduced a policy that would offer pregnant women $5,500 (€4,500) not to end their pregnancies, the BBC reports. Under the policy, established by governor Roberto Formigoni, only pregnant women facing severe economic hardship would be eligible for the payment.
Formigoni has allotted $6.1 million (€5 million) to the program, which would distribute cash to eligible women in monthly payments of about $300 (€250) for 18 months.
Formigoni’s plan has been lauded by anti-abortion activists and the Italian Bishops’ Conference, who told the BBC: “Anything that respects life is to be applauded.”
Under the policy, women who tell doctors they are seeking an abortion due to economic concerns will be referred to a help center established by the program, the Times of London reports.
Milan gynecologist Augusto Colombo told the Times that he had seen an increase in women seeking abortion for financial reasons as a result of the soured economy: “Whoever has trouble making ends meet often decides not to have a child.”
Yet critics have condemned the plan as “propaganda” — pointing out that there is only sufficient funding for fewer 1,200 women. They also point out that while it may offer immediate help to pregnant women facing financial struggles, it ultimately offers a short-term solution to what is a long-term, life-altering decision.