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Romero, Diana, and Madina Agenor. “US Fertility Prevention as Poverty Prevention: An Empirical Question and Social Justice Issue.” Women’s Health Issues 19, no. 6 (2009): 355–64.


This article explores the effectiveness of the family caps rules in welfare policy, as well as related social justice issues. The family caps, also called child exclusion policies, were created in the 1990s as part of welfare reform to discourage poor women from reproducing by not raising the amount of aid they receive for additional children born into a family already receiving aid. The authors review state- and national-level studies to determine whether such policies are effective at halting poor women’s reproduction.  They find that, although there are varying results, most research fails to show a causal link between welfare family caps and childbearing behavior. Further, the authors are interested in determining if such policies violate human rights and review international treaties and conventions, including The United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights that establishes the rights to equality, privacy, marriage, and family.  Also, the authors demonstrate how the policy disproportionately affects women of color and is part of a long history of attempts to control the reproductive behavior of women of color in the U.S. Overall, the authors find that such a policy should be reconsidered by lawmakers since it has not proven to be effective and is in violation of a multitude of international human rights. For those interested in welfare policy, this article clearly demonstrates the ineffectiveness of family caps as a way to prevent poor mothers from further reproducing.  The authors declare that their research for this article does not address public health issues, such as how women and children who have been subject to the family caps have been affected in terms of health and wellbeing.      


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Legislation/policy   Government regulation   Population control