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Center Releases New Brief on Anniversary of Welfare Reform
CRRJ released its latest non-partisan policy analysis, “Bringing Families out of ‘Cap’tivity: the Path Toward Abolishing Welfare Family Caps” on the 20th anniversary of so-called “welfare reform.” On that day, President Bill Clinton signed into law the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996, which ushered in Temporary Assistance for Needy Families and with it the invitation for states to maintain or enact Welfare Family Cap policies without federal oversight. Welfare Family Caps deny additional cash aid for babies born into families already receiving cash assistance. Our brief describes Welfare Family Caps’ origins and:
- outlines their pejorative purposes and punitive effects;
- highlights how they deepen poverty and hurt children;
- explains how they ultimately cost the State money and harm the economy;
- chronicles legal challenges and repeal efforts in 11 states; and
- discusses the need to abolish these racist, sexist, classist policies nationwide.
Last year, the state of Indiana sentenced Purvi Patel to 20 years in prison for self-administering abortion pills to end her own pregnancy. CRRJ co-authored an appellate amicus brief, arguing, on behalf of 30 reproductive justice organizations, that no one should be prosecuted for ending a pregnancy or for pregnancy loss. In July 2016, the Indiana Court of Appeals vacated the feticide conviction and remanded her case to the trial court for resentencing under a lower felony neglect charge. The court correctly applied settled legal principles to recognize it was neither the intent of the state legislature nor the precedent of the court to apply the feticide statute to a pregnant person who self-induced an abortion.
“The SIA Legal Team is pleased the court recognized that feticide laws are intended to protect, not prosecute, pregnant women,” Jill E. Adams is quoted as saying in Mother Jones. “Women don’t need to be stigmatized and sentenced; instead, they need safe, affordable access to provider-directed and self-directed health care.”
As Adams told the Associated Press, prosecutions like Ms. Patel’s are a misuse of the criminal justice system, undermining public health and disproportionately targeting communities of color, immigrants, and people living in poverty.