a bird and a bottle

Buying Babies

Ah the mixed messages we send women.

Now Texas women may be able to get paid to go on long term contraception AND get paid to have babies that they give up for adoption.

One move reeks of racism while the other reeks of anti-women sentiment (Amanda worked it out — Texas’s law pays $.07 cents/hr for pregnancy).

Does this double whammy on women remind you of anything else? It reminds me of the mixed messages of the Hyde Amendment and welfare law since 1996.

Here’s what I mean. Under the Hyde Amendment, poor women are denied federal medicaid funding for abortions. Money for healthcare that they would receive if they carried a pregnancy to term is withheld. And the Constitution is OK with this — or at least so said the Supreme Court in Harris v. McRae.

But in 1996, when so-called welfare reform was passed, the federal government instituted what is called a “family cap” — if a woman has a child more than 10 months after beginning to receive federal welfare benefits (TANF), she is not entitled to an increase in her benefits to help pay for that child’s living expenses. Many states have adopted family caps too. This, of course, encourages abortions since women, even when the child is wanted, know that they will not be able to continue to provide for themselves and their already-born children and to support a new child; this is why even some anti-choicers — not usually the same people who support welfare recipients — oppose family caps.

What kind of message is this sending to poor women? It says that the federal government will penalize them for having more children, but will not make the full arsenal of resources available to them to avoid this. It tells poor women, just don’t have sex.


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