Rand Paul wants to “punish” women for out-of-wedlock babies.
Believe it or not, that assertion is misleading. Paul suggested a cap: A woman can have a certain number of babies (for example’s sake: two) and receive a check, but if she has a third child, she would receive no additional support.
Paul hopes the cap would encourage women to stop having children who they are unable to care for. Sixteen other states already have caps, and the evidence that these caps discourage out-of-wedlock babies is allegedly “weak”. However, one thing is certain—if every baby a woman has requires another government check, somebody (taxpayers) end up paying for their care.
But why are extramarital babies so common?
In 1980, only 18.4 percent of births were to unmarried women. In 2007, that percentage soared to nearly 40 percent. Many of these children lack involved fathers, leaving mothers to raise them alone. With only the mother’s income, these families struggle to make it out of poverty.
One study shows the frightening link between the influx in unwed pregnancies, and contraceptives and abortions:
What links liberalized contraception and abortion with the declining shotgun marriage rate? Before 1970, the stigma of unwed motherhood was so great that few women were willing to bear children outside of marriage. The only circumstance that would cause women to engage in sexual activity was a promise of marriage in the event of pregnancy. Men were willing to make (and keep) that promise for they knew that in leaving one woman they would be unlikely to find another who would not make the same demand. Even women who would be willing to bear children out-of-wedlock could demand a promise of marriage in the event of pregnancy.
However, when contraceptives and abortions gave women a way around or out of having an unwanted baby, extramarital promiscuity increased. In time, the social stigma against premarital sex and out-of-wedlock marriage declined rapidly, and men expected sex without the chains of fatherhood. The baby could always “go away.”
Women who opposed contraception and abortion were affected too. They discovered they were at risk of losing their partners if they didn’t consent to sex, severing the link between sex and marriage. Men took on a new mindset—it is entirely up to the woman whether she has a baby or not, so if she chooses life, he is free to walk away.
As contraceptives and abortions encourage the decline of certain moral standards for sexual relations, women opposed to those technologies must choose between having the baby and putting the child up for adoption.
The answer of the welfare cap goes far deeper than discouraging more babies; it lies in encouraging traditional standards of sexuality. What’s “better for the kids” isn’t another paycheck, but a stable home:
Children raised in intact married families are more likely to attend college, are physically and emotionally healthier, are less likely to be physically or sexually abused, less likely to use drugs or alcohol and to commit delinquent behaviors, have a decreased risk of divorcing when they get married, are less likely to become pregnant/impregnate someone as a teenager, and are less likely to be raised in poverty.
Rand Paul wouldn’t get very far fining premarital sex (nor should he), but the more incentives for people to marry and stay married, the better. People have a much easier time doing the right thing when they aren’t punished for it, and a much harder time doing the wrong thing when they are.