THE BOTTOM LINE ON WELFARE REFORM
by Mrs. Judie Brown, President
American Life League, Inc.
After reading a March 19 article from the New York Times, "Abortion Foes
Worry About Welfare Cutoffs," plus a current press release from the
Family Research Council, "Welfare Is Bondage and Subsidizes Illegitimacy,
FRC Says," I am greatly disturbed by the arrogance of those who suggest
that illegitimacy, when one is living in poverty, is somehow different
from the illegitimacy we see on Beverly Hills 90210, and I must make the
First: commenting on the possibility that the proposed welfare cutoffs would
cause more abortions, Charles Murray, co-author of The Bell Curve, said,
"Whether this is good depends on what one thinks of abortion."
Indeed, the government must reform a welfare system that discriminates
against the family unit by denying benefits to a family if the father is
in the home and is employed. However, this same government cannot reform
the system by discriminating against innocent babies whose mothers and
fathers might have conceived outside of wedlock.
* Government is not church.
* Government is not mother and father.
* Government is not playing fair, even if the
representatives of that government are claiming
some moral high ground in order to mask their cruel
Second: Ralph Reed, Executive Director of the Christian Coalition, opines
that his priority is to end the "culture of illegitimacy."
It is fair to say that sexual promiscuity is not a result of the Great
Society programs of the Johnson era, but rather a result of the birth
control mentality that has driven an entire generation to believe, "if
it feels good, do it." Again, this is a matter of moral decay, not
It may be true that government intervention has assisted the advance toward
hell for many young people, but welfare reform's "family cap" concept will
not change this.
It is regrettable that government programs have driven families apart, but
we must be sure that reforms designed to heal the family do not, in the
interim, drive unwed teenage mothers to kill their babies.
Third: William Kristol of the Project for the Republican Future says, "An
attack on illegitimacy is an attack on promiscuity is an attack on
abortion. We can't not reform welfare because it might lead to a few more
abortions. And I do think there's a plausible argument that the reforms
might discourage teenagers from sexual activity, and therefore reduce the
number of abortions."
Let's be honest about this, shall we? First, children born out of wedlock
or conceived out of wedlock did not in any way ask to be placed in that
situation. They are, from conception, human beings who deserve equal
protection under the law and just treatment from the government, not to
mention the community surrounding them and their parents. It is not simply
poor teenagers who become pregnant out of wedlock; it is a broad range of
women at various socio-economic levels.
Conception out of wedlock happens because of many things, including
disrespect for the value of the sexual act, ignorance of moral absolutes
(the natural law which governs the universe), and the absence of a
properly formed conscience.
However, a plan to deny funding to one group of mothers because of their
age and because of their economic situation suggests that no one really
minds if babies conceived out of wedlock and in poverty die by abortion
so long as we can curtail illegitimate births. That is not a pro-life
Fourth: Gary Bauer, Executive Director of the Family Research Council,
suggests that such a policy "challenges the culture that has led to the
social acceptance of illegitimacy and abortion."
Such a policy suggests that the adolescent living in poverty (on welfare),
whose affluent counterpart is not going to be affected by such a policy or
alter her lifestyle at all because she is not receiving government support,
had better not have a baby because if she does, the government is not going
to help her care for that baby. Will this pressure her to have an
abortion? Dr. Wanda Franz, President of the National Right to Life
Committee, has publicly pointed out the many reasons why her studies of
adolescent sexual behavior suggest that it will.
Further, let us look to studies on the matter by William Bennett of Empower
a.) 12.9 percent of children in the USA relied on AFDC for their survival
in 1991 as compared to 3.5 percent in 1960;
b.) Births to teenage mothers in 1960 averaged 15.3 per 1,000 teenage
Births to teenage mothers in 1990 averaged 42.5 per 1,000 teenage
girls + 43.8 per thousand had abortions in 1990 = 99.2 of every 1,000
teenage girls got pregnant;
c.) Births to unmarried women of all races averaged 5.3 percent of all
births in 1960.
Births to unmarried women of all races averaged 28.0 percent of all
births in 1990.
No, the family cap is not going to solve what is a social/cultural problem
of enormous proportions. What it is going to do, however, is deal with the
dollars spent on preborn and newborn children whose mothers are unfortunate
enough to be a part of the expanding welfare community in our nation.
Family values, GOP style?
The solution to the national epidemic of illegitimacy is found in Christ
the Lord, who assured us that the poor would always be with us; and
instructed us that as we care for those in most need around us, so we are
caring for Him. It is in Him that we will find the answers to resolving
the moral crisis that has permeated our culture, and it is in Him that I
hope we find the courage to oppose discriminatory policies like the
so-called family cap, and that is the bottom line on welfare reform.
1William J. Bennett, "The Index of Leading Cultural Indicators," published
jointly by The Heritage Foundation and Empower America, Vol. 1, 1993