Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Hey, Guys? Mind if an actual female has a say?

State 29's been dealing with birth control and welfare issues lately, and I thought I'd take a moment to address this argument:
Beginning in February, low-income women ages 12 to 44 who earn 200 percent or less of poverty level will be eligible.

They'll be able to go to a health clinic and apply to receive free annual gynecological exams, birth control pills and other family planning services. Abortions are not covered under the program.
The State of Iowa, or maybe even the Feds, would be better off paying poor women to get their tubes tied. Give them something like $2000 cash money and a free operation. That will save the taxpayers a lot of money in the future and will eliminate any future welfare dependents. Then they can screw every dirtbag loser in the county and not make any more babies. That's what we call a "win/win" situation for all. In the retail world they call this a "loss leader."

Inflammatory language aside, the argument simply doesn't hold water, for reasons I'll touch on in a moment. There were a flurry of comments on State's argument over on Political Forecast - see Chris Wood's response and the comments thereto. Out of these, Marc D. went farthest in doing actual factual refutation of State's position. His comment:
What I find most irritating about State29’s commentary on this and many other issues, is an obvious failure to do even the most elementary research.
Citing sources such as the US Census, the House of Representatives, the Heritage Foundation, etc. This nicely put together page provides facts that obviously have no currency in the Bowels of State29’s mind in refutation of the myth that “Welfare gives mothers an economic incentive to have more children.”
[Fact: “Studies have not found a correlation between size of welfare benefits
and families. “]
Myth: People on welfare are usually black, teenage mothers who stay on ten years at a time.
Fact: whites form the largest racial group on welfare; half of all welfare recipients leave in the first two years; and teenagers form less than 8 percent of all welfare mothers.
discusses the 8 most prevalent myths about welfare including State29’s obvious favorite: “Welfare dependency is the result of the moral failings of poor people: addiction, unwillingness to work, lack of family values and sexual control.”


State responds here:
Ignore the whole "welfare queen" myth. That's a rare instance.

What about a family with four or five kids with a married mother and father, but for some reason they can't bring in enough to get by. Perhaps one or both parents are on disability, is an occasional drunk or drug addict, or just can't hold a job. The family is constantly on some kind of assistance. Is it OK for the State to come along and say: "You're 32 years old, you've taken $XXX,XXX from the taxpayers over the past XX number of years. You're probably not going to change your ways. Why not accept some cash and get a free operation?"

The reality is that some people are going to get themselves into bad situations thanks to bad choices and before long they're living a Jerry Springer Guest Lifestyle.

The ultra-lefties can wring their hands all they want about "poor women" and how anybody who dares to criticize their plight must consider these women "whores" or whatever, but that doesn't solve the problem. Neither does giving the women "free" checks for herpes, warts, gonorrhea, crabs, and lord knows what else before slipping a packet of "free" pills into their purse - pills you just know that many will neglect to take properly.

How do you break the cycle of dependency upon the taxpayers? Free birth control? Grants to go to the local community college for a semester and a half? Job training so you can work at the local casino or TouchPlay Slottery convenience store? No way. That's not it.

"Family planning" should also involve a time in which the State decides that enough is enough. We're not getting all China on the welfare bums, but an incentive to a 19 year old mother of two with no hopes or prospects is the kind of loss leader that might pay some dividends down the road. Rather than stringing the mother and the kids (and some of the fathers) down the road until she's 39 with 20+ years of welfare, ADC, food stamps, heating assistance, Hawk-I, Medicaid, or never-ending battles in court over child support, how about giving the family an option to quit while they're behind only a little bit. Then they can have the time to raise what they've got, get their lives together once the kids are in daycare or school, then they can have a life and a career of their own. What's so wrong about that?

Well, you've bundled a lot into this, but I'll try to answer the question.

1) Assumes facts not in evidence.
First off, you say to take the "welfare queen" out of the picture. That's wise, because the welfare queen is a statistical minority. According to what I found in the Urban Institute, about a quarter to one-third of those who go off welfare in Iowa return. That leaves two-thirds who don't. Having another child is a factor among those who return, at about 35%, but again not a solid majority. So by my math, about a ninth of the welfare recipients are repeaters who are back on for having another child. Why am I going on about a point that you conceded? Because you neglected to delete the personal assumtions associated with the welfare queen stereotype:
Neither does giving the women "free" checks for herpes, warts, gonorrhea, crabs, and lord knows what else before slipping a packet of "free" pills into their purse - pills you just know that many will neglect to take properly.

As any female can tell you, the annual exam is a part of the essential routine, married or not. It's primarily because ovarian cancer is symptomless until it's in the late stages, but there are a whole host of other reasons. It is also generally required in order to obtain any chemical birth control because of the increased health risk to the female. That goes across the board, from the private doctor's office to the Free Medical Clinic. Your rebuttal statement correctly points out that venereal diseases are a typical part of the screening (albiet one that's covered less and less as insurace is being cut), however it also implies that this is the sole reason for the visit: to minimize the number of bugs the stupid skank has picked up in the past year by sleeping with God-knows-who. But we've already eliminated the statistical minority welfare queen, remember? So the stereotype is invalid, as is the correlating implication that giving women free birth control pills is useless. Again, remember, we've ditched the welfare queen. And the overall statistical effectiveness for the pill is 92-97% - which takes into account people who miss them. To sum: what facts do you have to show that non-"welfare queens" are skanky and can't keep track of their pills?

Rather than stringing the mother and the kids (and some of the fathers) down the road until she's 39 with 20+ years of welfare, ADC, food stamps, heating assistance, Hawk-I, Medicaid, or never-ending battles in court over child support, how about giving the family an option to quit while they're behind only a little bit.

Have we all forgotten about the five-year time limit? Even those recalcitrant cases will eventually find a cut-off point. And, again, studies show that returning parents are only 1/3 of welfare repeaters and only 1/3 of the people on welfare are repeaters.

2) Overbroad/overkill
You argue that free birth control simply won't work, impliedly because women on welfare are either to recalcitrant or stupid to take the pills. That's a myth, as the success rate for the pill is in the ninety-percent rate, taking missed pills into account. It's also a stereotype, in my opinion, I don't know a female alive who's been on the pill for any amount of time and didn't miss one sometime, somewhere, generally due to circumstances beyond her control. But regardless, you're forgetting some other options: depo-provera, the patch, etc. There are many ways of preventing birth that minimize the "stupid" factor even if it were present.

Tubal ligation is not a minor procedure. It's very invasive and almost always permanent. Poverty, on the other hand, is not necessarily permanent. Neither is the lack of work or an education. In other words, you're advocating a permanent procedure (sterilization) for what you simultaneously argue at least should be a temporary condition (poverty/welfare need).

BUT . . .

In with the stereotypes, the inflammatory language (good job in getting the discussion started) and so forth is this little phrase:
giving the family an option

Precisely. I'd argue that your tubal ligation solution, rather than replacing the free birth control and the required medical check-ups necessary to dispense it, should be added as another option for low-income families to consider.

(Not the whole $2000 "bonus" if they take it. When you combine that with the stereotypes I pointed out, I'm afraid it does smack strongly of eugenics.)

But the operation itself - why shouldn't it be available as an option?

I can cite an example I ran across in the past: a woman who had two unplanned pregnancies while studying to become an electrician in order to try to get her family up and out of the system. She'd chosen to become an electrician because she'd done the research on hourly wages, wanted to stay away from seasonal work, and also was realistic enough to know she didn't have the brains to do well in college. She was structured, disciplined, and I truly believed she'd pull it off. The first child, I believe, did predate the electrician training and was conceived because they were using only condoms.
(NOTE: Is everybody out there clear that 14 out of 100 women will become pregnant in a year of typical condom use? (NOTE NOTE: is everyone also clear that means "typical," not "irresponsible?" Particularly those of you who use condoms as your primary method of birth control? Think about it.)
Second time around, if I recall correctly, she tried the pill. She got the baby jackpot again, in that she fell into that 3-8% who got pregnant anyway. And, given the rigorous schedule she tried to keep and her high sense of responsibility, I'd say she wasn't a stupid woman who often missed pills. After the second time around, she requested a tubal ligation. Her low-income benefits wouldn't cover it and the doctor wouldn't perform it, because she was under the age of 25. Long story short, after yet another "miracle" conception, she became depressed enough that she stopped trying. She eventually ended up in the system for a number of years, got her kids removed, and has become the typical burn-out. Some might look at her family history and say it was inevitable. If the State kept track of juvenile records beyond the age of 18, you would be able to trace some families down through the system over generations back, and her family did have a significant history of involvement with the system. But I often wonder, given how hard she tried to break that trend, was it inevitable, or did that one issue act as the turning point, a catalyst for the slow descent down into poverty, addiction, and chaos? It's impossible to answer, but I think that is one solid example in favor of adding tubal ligation as an alternative choice for women who wish to exercise that option.

Anyway, I think this basically addresses the question, but I reserve the right to supplement (and correct my stupid fractions) if I want to, 'cause it's my blog.

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