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John LaBruzzo Wants to Bribe Poor Women to be Sterilized

September 29, 2008

Louisiana State Rep John LaBruzzo wants to bribe poor women to be sterilized. I’ve written before about my opposition to these types of programs – they tend to be coercive, focus solely on women and ignore potential side effects of long-term methods of birth control, and are often more than a little bit racist. They dangle the short-term funds women may need to survive as an incentive to make a long-term choice, exploiting women’s economic vulnerability.

The details on this case, from ABC News:

“His idea — giving $1,000 to poor women to undergo reproductive sterilization by Fallopian tube ligation — is stirring up controversy among some medical professionals, who say that the proposal is offensive and smacks of long-discredited eugenics programs. LaBruzzo has also suggested other controversial ideas: paying poor men to get vasectomies and giving tax incentives for college-educated wealthy couples to have more children.”

When LaBruzzo talks about paying people he presumably finds desirable to have more children, he’s giving away that he’s not just interested in “helping” women in poverty in making decisions about their fertility or improve their lives – he’s actively seeking to prevent those he finds undesirable from breeding. Such a plan does nothing to address problems that contribute to poverty, and does nothing to help women control their reproduction in a way that is woman-controlled – it also makes the arrogant assumption that the only thing contributing to poverty is that “these people” (as he referred to poor people on welfare) just aren’t smart enough to control their family sizes.

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14 Comments leave one →
  1. September 29, 2008 5:58 pm

    I suppose you’d rather have them breed like rats (which is what they are doing now). Fact: genetic traits such as intelligence and ability to focus and work are passed down from parents to children. There is a whole segment of society now who live on welfare; and their children will live on welfare; and their children’s children. The truth is, we don’t have the money to pay for them, and eventually we will have to stop welfare altogether. If we simply ended the welfare program today, hundreds, if not thousands of these parasitic Americans would starve to death. Isn’t it more humane to simply reduce the future number of welfare dwellers? If you truly believed that these people were smart enough to decide their own lives, you would allow them to make this choice. It is a win-win situation for America and I hope more of these programs start showing up.

  2. September 29, 2008 6:45 pm

    I find it disgusting that you are comparing people to rats and parasites. As I’ve mentioned, I find programs like that suggested here to be coercive, and thus I believe that the choice is not truly a free one. How does one weigh the immediate need for survival against long-term reproductive decisions? Why is preventing people from reproducing the immediate and only solution to improving people’s lives?

  3. September 29, 2008 11:10 pm

    As an intelligent, hardworking person who has emerged from generations of poverty to go to college and grad school, I find Alexander’s comment incredibly insulting. I don’t even know why I’m wasting my time replying to it, except that those kinds of opinions need to be challenged. But then, if Alexander has led such a sheltered, ignorant life that he has never met any of the millions of smart, creative people who are born into poverty and kept from exercising their abilities by the merciless grind of structural economic inequalities, then maybe he’s hopeless.

    Or maybe he’s just a troll. Let’s hope so.

  4. Josh permalink
    October 1, 2008 5:06 am

    I believe that the entire world will need to come to an agreement on ethical and responsible methods of population control. I am vehemently against Eugenics programs. That being said, we cannot begin colonies on Mars yet, so we need to keep in mind the population number that the planet can reasonably sustain for several hundred years. We have to be realistic and limit the number of pregnancies for everyone. Whatever your class or status you should be required to have a license to have a child. I mean you have to have a license to drive a car and yet nothing is required to raise a child. I think that’s the real crime here. I’m sorry, but not everyone is capable of raising children. This is nothing new. Children and family services along with the court system already make these evaluations in many cases. We need to protect our children and dis-allow unfit parents from having additional children without repurcussions, fines, imprisonment. Whatever it takes, these people are commiting crimes and handing tax payers the bill. Enough is enough! I don’t feel that college professors should have more than 2 children. It’s irresponsible to the planet and selfish. No one should be allowed to have more than one child per person, two per couple. This is only logical. Most of us are not working on farms and do not need cheap labor in the form of 10 member families.

  5. candy permalink
    October 1, 2008 8:57 am

    I have been saying this for 10 years now. How much longer can the welfare system hold up? For years now, poor women, usually drug addicts, and usually black know exactly how many children the welfare system will “pay for”. And what’s really funny, they tend to stop at that number. So why not limit them to 1 child, that welfare will pay for, or offer a cash amount for them to have their tubes tied? I’m all for it and I think it’s great that a politician finally has the backbone to call a spade a spade. This is a great solution to a growing problem and long overdue in my opinion. I’m going to write my own representatives regarding this issue, and I hope that other upstanding citizens, i.e. THE taxpayers, will do the same. I’m tired of supporting future criminals, only to continue my support when they end up in prison.

  6. October 1, 2008 5:05 pm

    I think poor men and women are less likely to be aware of their contraceptive options, know how to correctly use the contraceptives they have, have the self esteem to force their partners to use contraception, and less likely to have access to or the ability to afford an abortion if they have unwanted pregnancies. This can lead to many unwanted births; trying to reduce the number of unwanted births is a worthy goal. I’m not sure that unwanted births are any better an outcome than a sterilization a person may later regret.

    But I agree this particular plan smacks of eugenics: he is proposing incentives for sterilization only. If his goal was only to reduce unwanted births caused by lack of access to contraceptives, self-esteem to use them, and lack of available and affordable abortions, there are options other than sterilization. Long-acting user independent contraceptives like the IUD and Jadelle, for one. Not to mention funding for family planning clinics and comprehensive sex education.

    The comments here that claim most poor women deliberately have children to milk the system are amazingly myopic.

  7. October 2, 2008 11:12 am

    Candy doesn’t seem to be aware that most welfare mothers are white. Or that most recipients of welfare, and children brought up on welfare, aren’t criminals. Or that most mothers on welfare have fewer children than mothers not on welfare. She’s so full of misinformation that I can’t even tell whether she’s a class-based eugenicist, or just a racist one. But she is misinformed about a lot of things.

  8. Max permalink
    October 5, 2008 8:10 pm

    I’m a progressive. I’m a big fan of Rachel Maddow. And I think a similar plan should be implemented nationwide.

    Why? Because all the comments I’ve seen on this issue from foster parents, and people who work with Child Protective Services, think this is a great idea.

    This guy may very well be a racist and a eugenicist. But if his program is implemented in a non-compulsory, non-discriminatory way, WHAT ON EARTH are we complaining about? Do you have any idea how many kids out there are born to unintentional parents who either forget to use birth control or just get unlucky with a rip in the condom or whatever?

    Some pregnant women may have an abortion, some may put him/her up for adoption, and some will keep the child. But the numbers of parents with unwanted kids (and lets just keep income and race out of it, it happens within every demographic) are too high and contribute to a lot of social problems.

    The real point of this idea is that tubal ligation is foolproof AND reversible, whereas condoms and the Pill etc. are not (you have to use them consistently). IUDs and the like are expensive and can cause health-related side effects (just ask my former roommate Sarah), seem more “unnatural”, and are expensive. Low-income, low-education citizens aren’t likely to go for them, particularly if their church sees birth control as suspect and abortion as a moral high crime.

    Paying a significant amount (like $5K) for a ligation might do a lot to get people over the hump of indifference or lifestyle inertia. And in the long run an unwanted child living a life of crime (most won’t but some will) cost the nation a lot more than that.

  9. pixie permalink
    October 5, 2008 9:28 pm

    YES! It’d be so much better to coerce the poor and undereducated into irreversible reproductive decisions, rather than simply providing real sex education, easy and free access to reproductive health care, birth control and counselling! It would, really and truly, be cheaper for society to pay for all of those services than to pay for all the unplanned pregnancies. But that would be socialism, which we all know is evil. *sigh*
    This plan sounds like something my inlaws would suggest. And, yes, it would come to them out of racism and classism… and perhaps a real disdain for their former daughter-in-law, which, to be fair, I can kinda see…
    If everyone only the ability to only have the specific number of children they wished, when they wished, and only the number they could support, we’d all be better off. But this plan doesn’t focus on that goal. This is for “reducing” the number of “undesirables,” which doesn’t fix a blessed thing. It’s all about education and access.

  10. kmg permalink
    October 6, 2008 8:42 am

    ITS NOT ABOUT RACE, and there are just as many whites as blacks on welfare and drugs, so stop trying to make this a racial thing. Second, I really don’t agree with the proposal, but it is voluntary, however i feel a person should be offered more than a $1000 dollars.

  11. Susanna permalink
    October 6, 2008 9:43 am

    This thread overlaps thematically an earlier one on this site where a doctor told how his teenage patients openly admitted they got pregnant as a way to gain financial independence through welfare. So yes, some people are milking society. It’s not all about lack of sex education, which is something that should be provided, too, to prevent the honest mistakes.

    Wasn’t there a study on how crime had gone down in the US because of future criminals having been nipped in the bud, i.e. aborted?

    Race is not the only thing that is inherited. Social traits are passed down too. We often confuse the two. Skin color is a racial feature, being a loser is not.

    In the earlier thread I suggested that the good doctor fit his patients with subcutaneous contraception, but apparently Norplant has been ruled out in the US. Sterilization seems like an extreme solution, as it mostly is NOT reversible. It would seem unfair to condemn people to childlessness forever, as after their teen years, they may get their act together and be able to look after their children themselves.

  12. October 6, 2008 10:59 am

    I think $1K is way to low, maybe at $5-10K it would be a good idea. Education should start at an early age at school as this is a big problem in this country.

  13. Meg permalink
    October 7, 2008 4:56 pm

    Sure, lets agree and dump on him, either way you forget, IT IS OPTIONAL. Meaning people who probably really were too dumb to realize that they need to stop reproducing wouldn’t even take advantage of it not caring what happens, or would thinking it was some easy money, or some people would take advantage of it who never want kids no matter how smart that are. It would be optional, so its not like people aren’t going to put alot of thought into something before they do it…

    Or we could just become like China, over populate so bad that they forcibly take children at some point because you have too many.

  14. Polly permalink
    October 7, 2008 7:24 pm

    Here is the issue… the amount of money offered is an insult. If you want to help people, you offer them an appropriate amount of money.

    It should apply to vasectomies for men as well. The amount should range between 5K and 10K. If, the surgery is reversed, the money must be repaid.

    Additionally, two years of trade school or community college assistance for the person should be included in the deal.

    The simple fact is, paying people to HAVE children they cannot care for, supervise, teach and train to be productive, useful human beings makes NO sense for the future of America. OR any other country in the world either.

    It makes a lot of sense to pay people NOT TO HAVE MORE children than they can care for, supervise, teach and train to be productive, useful human beings.

    This would result in more children having a shot at loving parents. The kind that teach them to be responsible, law abiding, contributing, happy citizens… who can grow up and have a good life. Something everyone here seems to miss. Quantity does not equal QUALITY.

    Children need parenting… it is a hard job with one… much less a half a dozen, trying to live on welfare. It DOES NOT MATTER WHAT RACE we are talking about… that is not the issue. The issue is, have fewer children, have more time to love them, teach them, have a better life yourself.

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