The just-negotiated Senate health care bill contains a big new pot of money to make it easier for pregnant teens to raise a child:
The federal government would provide $25 million a year for a “pregnancy assistance fund.” The money could be used for “maternity and baby clothing, baby food, baby furniture and similar items.”
The fund is supposed to encourage more teens to bring their children to term, rather than have an abortion. I am not convinced that increasing the number of children raised by teen mothers represents a win for society. But if pro-lifers want to make sure that every pregnant teen gives birth to a child–a moral position that I understand if not share–they would be far better off trying to revalorize adoption as a solution to pregnancies for which the mother is wholly unprepared. (Of course this “pregnancy assistance fund” may be purely a Democratic ploy to expand both government and dependency, with no support among the Lifers. But the goal of persuading teens to give birth is unquestionably a Lifer one.) Public policy should not be enabling teen motherhood, it should be doing everything it can to discourage it, starting with turning off the money spigot that subsidizes it. Teen motherhood should be made more, not less, onerous, since the evidence is indisputable that being raised by a single mother (regardless of her age) is a high-risk proposition both for the child and for society. As Barack Obama himself noted in 2008, “children who grow up without a father are five times more likely to live in poverty and commit crime; nine times more likely to drop out of schools and twenty times more likely to end up in prison.”
Obviously, this “pregnancy assistance fund” is hardly the first taxpayer subsidy to single-parenthood; garden-variety welfare, despite the 1996 welfare reform bill, still pumps massive sums into single-parenthood, treating it as a sort of unforeseeable act of nature deserving of social safety-net protection.
Teen mothers don’t need more taxpayer-funded “maternity clothing and baby furniture.” They need to learn that having a child at their age is an irresponsible act for which they are emotionally unfit, however much saying so flies in the face of feminist “strong women” propaganda. Adoption has virtually disappeared in the inner city as a response to teen pregnancy, gone into the same black hole as stigma. Pro-lifers would do the country a service by bringing it back.