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New Orleans proposes $1000 for women on welfare to tie tubes



Mecca V.I.P.
Jul 12, 2006
Duality would support it. :dunnodude:

NEW ORLEANS -- A suburban New Orleans legislator has proposed revisiting an idea from former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke: paying poor women to undergo sterilization as a way to shrink welfare rolls and government costs.

Rep. John LaBruzzo's suggestion prompted outrage Wednesday from several of his fellow lawmakers and advocacy groups. The Louisiana chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union called the idea mean-spirited and said it would discriminate against black Louisianians.

LaBruzzo, R-Metairie, said the idea would involve the state giving $1,000 to women who rely on government support like welfare and food stamps if they agree to have their fallopian tubes tied. He said it was too early to say whether he would introduce such a bill during the 2009 legislative session, but he said he was researching it.

"If we continue to have more people using government to support them as opposed to those who are supporting government with their taxes, government will collapse as we know it and will cease to exist," LaBruzzo said in a phone interview.

The idea _ first reported this week in an article in a local New Orleans business publication _ lit up talk radio lines and prompted fiery debate on blogs around the country. The former chairman of the Louisiana Legislative Black Caucus said the idea was discriminatory.

"LaBruzzo's an idiot," said Rep. Juan LaFonta, D-New Orleans, whose tenure as black caucus chairman ended this summer. "I think it's totally disrespectful to poor people in this country."

The proposal appeared unlikely to garner the support needed for passage in the Louisiana Legislature.

Gov. Bobby Jindal's office, when asked to comment on the idea, responded with a statement from Chief of Staff Timmy Teepell. "It's a non-starter," Teepell said.

House Speaker Jim Tucker, R-Terrytown, also said he didn't believe the proposal would gain traction. "I doubt it, but he's free to put in a bill and see where it goes," Tucker said.

The voluntary sterilization idea isn't new in Louisiana. Duke, who held LaBruzzo's state House seat from 1989 to 1992, first raised the idea.

Opponents of such plans have long called the proposal racist, a suggestion LaBruzzo vehemently denied Wednesday. He said more whites than blacks receive welfare checks in the state.

"Anybody who says this is racist is an idiot and doesn't have a grasp of the facts. The people who say that are racist because they see everything as black and white. They are racist because they assume everyone on welfare is black," LaBruzzo said.

Marjorie Esman, the executive director of the ACLU of Louisiana, didn't call LaBruzzo's proposal racist, but she said it would have racial implications because blacks are disproportionately poorer in the country.

She said the idea was a misguided attempt to eliminate poverty by eliminating the poor. Esman said LaBruzzo should suggest instead proposals that would provide economic and educational opportunities to the poor so they can improve their circumstances.

"We would not want those people to feel like they have a quick cash incentive to give up their rights to have children. You have people being pressured to take money when they're in desperate circumstances," Esman said.

LaBruzzo tossed such criticism aside.

"They're not responsible enough to make this decision, but they're responsible enough to raise eight kids and make them productive members of society?" he said.

LaBruzzo said a state incentive for voluntary sterilization was one of several ideas he was studying as he looked at ways to break "the generational welfare cycle." He said he's received more phone calls from people supporting the proposal than criticizing it.

Louisiana welfare data indicate that LaBruzzo's claims about rising welfare costs are unfounded: The number of people collecting welfare has dropped every year for almost two decades.

In the 2006-07 fiscal year, more than 13,000 recipients got welfare checks in Louisiana, for a cost of $16.5 million, according to data from the Louisiana Department of Social Services. That's down from 279,000 recipients in 1990-91, costing $187.9 million.

Food stamp usage has remained more steady. In the 1990-91 year, food stamps were given to nearly 737,000 recipients, at a cost of $585 million. By the 2006-07 year, the number of recipients had dropped to nearly 616,000, but the cost had grown to $742 million.

LaFonta said LaBruzzo's "been known as the dumbest legislator in the House of Representatives." He compared the sterilization proposal to "a page out of a book of communism" and to Hitler's exterminations of the Jews and other groups considered undesirable.

The idea also recalls the legacy of eugenics in the United States. In the first half of the 20th century, more than two dozen states passed laws allowing the involuntary sterilization of those deemed unfit for reproduction, including convicts and those with what were considered mental or physical defects.

LaFonta said just the mention of voluntary sterilization of poor women hurts Louisiana nationally as it seeks federal aid from Gustav and Ike _ and continuing assistance to rebuild the New Orleans area after Hurricane Katrina.

"This is going to hammer us on our national perspective," LaFonta said.

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