The Bottom Line on Welfare Reform

Author: Judie Brown

THE BOTTOM LINE ON WELFARE REFORM by Mrs. Judie Brown, President American Life League, Inc.

Editorial Commentary

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 following points.

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 policies.

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 government programs.

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 posture.

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 America:1

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 girls.

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