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Strategic Initiative: Eliminating Welfare Family Caps
Increasing support for families using public benefits.
If/When/How envisions a world where all people have to power to determine if, when, and how to define, create, and sustain families. Parents and guardians deserve to raise children with dignity, safety, and security; robust public benefits are a vital element to support strong families. In most states, when a child is born into a family whose income meets the eligibility requirement for cash aid, the family will receive a modest increase in its monthly allowance in order to care for the child. However, in 13 states newborns are rendered ineligible for such aid due to welfare family cap policies in place. These racist, sexist, classist policies are rooted in eugenics and fail to achieve their purported aim of lowering the birth rate among Temporary Aid for Needy Family (TANF) participants. Beyond being ineffectual, these policies cause harm by shaming parents and exacerbating childhood poverty and its effects, including health problems, food insecurity, and homelessness. Reproductive justice will be realized when everyone has the resources and support they need to create, sustain, and define their families, whatever their size.
Return to the full list of our strategic initiatives here.
2017 Report to the UN Working Group on the Issue of Discrimination Against Women in Law and in Practice
If/When/How (then SIA Legal Team) Senior Counsel Farah Diaz-Tello coauthored this report submitted to the U.N. Working Group on Discrimination Against Women in Law and in Practice, uncovering the looming threat to women’s human rights posed by a patchwork of antiquated criminal abortion laws, fatally ambiguous “unborn victims of violence” laws susceptible to being twisted beyond their intended use, and other criminal laws prone to misuse by prosecutors and laying bare the prevailing myth perpetuated by abortion opponents that criminalization of abortion protects women from unscrupulous actors and only affects health care providers. Read moreDownload
2019 Follow-Up Report to the UN Working Group on the Issue of Discrimination Against Women in Law and in Practice
In this follow-up report to the UN Working Group on the Issue of Discrimination Against Women in Law and in Practice, If/When/How — along with co-signers from the reproductive law, rights, health, and justice movements in the United States — urges the Working Group to note concern with the retrogression surrounding the reproductive rights law and policy landscape in the United States and to remind the U.S. of its obligations to ensure women’s rights to equality and non-discrimination and their rights to reproductive and sexual health. Read moreDownload
This issue brief from the Center on Reproductive Rights and Justice at Berkeley Law, produced by If/When/How Executive Director Jill E. Adams, J.D., "outlines the pejorative purposes and punitive effects of Family Caps, highlights their repercussions for poverty, chronicles repeal efforts in other states, and discusses the need for their elimination nationwide." Read moreDownload
And Damned If They Don't: Prototype Theories to End Punitive Policies Against Pregnant People Living in Poverty
In the Georgetown Journal of Gender and the Law, Jill E. Adams, J.D., and Melissa Mikesell, J.D., examine the ways in which the State coerces or impedes the reproductive freedom of those experiencing poverty and review relevant caselaw on the intersection of economic and reproductive justice and rights, with an eye toward improving the legal and economic circumstances of pregnant people. Read moreDownload