One Louisiana politician's brainstorm for stopping generational welfare — welfare recipients having children who also end up on assistance — is giving birth to huge controversy. The idea? Offering $1,000 to poor women to get their tubes tied. State Rep. John LaBruzzo has a host of other controversial plans including paying poor men to get vasectomies and giving tax incentives to college-educated, wealthy couples for having children — and the plan is causing some medical professionals to point to its similarities to eugenics programs.
LaBruzzo says he's since modified his plan to include temporary forms of birth control, not just sterilization and argues criticism like this, "I don't know how it's eugenics if it's voluntary, and how can it be racist if the majority of people on welfare are white?"
Of the genesis of the idea, the crushing cycle of poverty, LaBruzzo says:
After this recent storm, we had some issues where these people were going into shelters and taking their cigarettes and welfare but didn't have diapers or insulin for diabetic kids, and they felt they were entitled to say, 'Give me, give me.' None of them didn't want to set up cots or do anything.
To see how incentive programs have worked,
Local policy makers say that the number of welfare recipients in Louisiana have actually dropped since 1991, disputing the need for an incentive program — but Planned Parenthood has actually tried it. In 1989 the group ran a program in Denver paying teen mothers a dollar a day not to get pregnant again. The program seemed to work then, though a spokeswoman for Planned Parenthood says now:
Such bribes don't work. It doesn't solve the underlying issues — access to health care and paying jobs. If he'd like to ensure that men and women aren't having too many children, then he should propose legislation to make sure that health care and education to prevent unwanted pregnancy is available to everyone.
Following on the heels of Liberty's post yesterday about the judge who ordered a woman to stop having kids, does the idea of providing an incentive not to have kids seem like a creative response to a big problem — or is it a little bit like a Modest Proposal for the modern age? Good idea or dreadful concept?