A proposal by state Sen. Dan Patrick would pay pregnant women $500 for choosing adoption over abortion.

The anti-abortion Houston Republican said Senate Bill 1567 would provide an incentive to forgo abortion, but critics questioned whether such payments would be viewed as baby selling or coercion.

"We want that lady to have an incentive that makes her stop and think about having an abortion and that gives her a reason to put her baby up for adoption," Patrick said. "My goal is to save as many babies as we possibly can."

Critics of the bill, which has not yet been scheduled for a hearing in the Senate Health and Human Services Committee, said the idea of paying women to choose adoption oversimplifies the decision they face.

"This is insulting to women and also insulting to all the great charitable organizations out there that do wonderful work finding adoptive parents and taking care of the birth mother," said Fran Hagerty of the Women's Health and Family Planning Association of Texas.

Joe Pojman of the anti-abortion group Texas Alliance for Life also expressed caution.

"We just need to make sure there isn't even the perception of baby buying going on," Pojman said.

It's against Texas law to offer to give a thing of value to another for acquiring a child for purposes of adoption.

Patrick disputed any portrayal of the bill as baby selling.

"We're just giving someone an incentive to put your baby up for adoption," he said. "Then the baby goes through the normal adoptive process."

Adam Pertman, head of the adoption-policy group Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute, said women facing adoption need to be able to weigh all options equally.

"You let women respectfully make the best decision they can at an excruciatingly difficult time. Introducing money into the mix can be coercive," Pertman said.