Buh-bye. That’s what California lawmakers finally said to the 20-year-old policy that gave low-income women an incentive not to have more children if they were on welfare. Essentially, the punitive policy capped their benefits, even if they gave birth to another child. And in cases of rape, incest, failed birth control, or sterilization, women had to prove their situation to government workers in order to receive additional funding for their unplanned baby. To make matters worse, the amount of money women received per child was minimal, about $130 per month. This is regrettably not enough to cover a baby’s basic needs: diapers, food, formula, clothes, healthcare, and more. This policy was not only ineffective, but it also humiliated women and portrayed them as a racist and harmful stereotype from the ‘90s — a “welfare queen.” What the law really represented was the government shaming women for their reproductive choices. And if the policy intended to impact women’s reproductive decisions, it wasn’t even effective in that regard.
This past month, California lawmakers finally came to their senses. The Maximum Family Grant Rule was a relic of an archaic system that tried to decrease the size of government, only to incidentally cause greater government intrusion into the lives of struggling women and their families. In the end, kids suffer the most when the government perpetuates greater poverty, but thanks to leaders like Sen. Holly Mitchell (D), California will increase the number of children it covers statewide by 126,000.