Rome, Italy (CNN) -- A northern Italian region has approved a measure to pay women from low-income families not to have abortions.
Authorities from the Lombardy Region, on Italy's border with Switzerland, approved the creation of a 5-million euro ($6.1 million) fund aimed at providing help to low-income families, the region said on its website this week.
The fund would grant about 4,500 euros ($5,500) a year to a woman who changes her mind about having an abortion because of economic reasons. The woman would receive 250 euros ($306) a month for 18 months, according to the site.
"We want to help the family, maternity, and birth rate, removing the obstacles as much as possible, beginning with those of an economic nature that make it more difficult to choose in favor of life," said the region's president, Roberto Formigone.
The option of accepting the check will be presented to women in abortion clinics during the consultations they have prior to having an abortion, the site said. The region's health department said economic reasons were the predominant reason that woman have abortions.
Critics attacked the measure as "a short-term solution to a long-term problem," according to Italian media.
The fund is called "Nasko," a play on the Italian word "nasco," which roughly translates to "I'm being born."
About 128,000 abortions are performed in Italy every year, according to the Italian Health Ministry. That compares to 195,743 in England and Wales last year, according to the British Department of Health, and 846,181 in the United States in 2006, according to the most recent figures reported by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
CNN's Hada Messia contributed to this report.