MEMPHIS, TN (abc24.com) — Go to the doctor and get $50. A Mid-South lawmaker wants to pay mothers to take care of their unborn children. Tennessee State Senator Brain Kelsey wants to reduce infant mortality. He wants to motivate low-income mothers to get prenatal care by giving them an incentive to go to the doctor, a $50 check.
Mothers around Shelby County told abc24.com they love the idea of helping the unborn but most agree, mothers shouldn't be paid to do what all moms should do: take care of themselves and their unborn child.
"The bill definitely sounds like a great idea. Something that our community definitely needs especially with Planned Parenthood being closed down definitely be a step forward,” said one mom, Diana Owen, who agrees with Senator Kelsey’s proposed legislation.
"I don't think offering $50 is going to make a person go to the doctor because you already have free services and you're not taking advantage of that,” said another mother, Jimmie Thompson, who disagrees with the senator.
That's why Senator Brian Kelsey wants to make sure mothers do take advantage of the already free state-wide prenatal care provided by TennCare.
"This bill would actually give people $50 incentives and get prenatal care," said Senator Kelsey. "Unfortunately, infant mortality is a really big problem here in Shelby County and state-wide in Tennessee."
The senator believes this incentive will help lower the infant mortality rate. Jimmie Thompson doesn't think so.
"I think if it's a low-income person that's already receiving benefits from the government that should be incentive enough,” said Thompson.
Thompson says if you have to pay a pregnant woman to go to the doctor maybe she shouldn't be pregnant in the first place.
"I understand the motivation behind it but I think there's more motivation in receiving free benefits to be able to do whatever you need to do versus fifty dollars," Thompson said. "I don't think it'll make a difference in the long run."
Senator Kelsey told abc24.com he does not know how much the bill will cost taxpayers but he says if it passes it will not only help babies receive a healthy start in life but save money in the long run. He said TennCare pays about $100,000 in medical expenses for every prematurely born child.