Saturday, January 21, 2006

Another Late Entry to the WIC Conversation

Some of the Nashville ladies got all nasty with each other this week, over the WIC program. I don't have a lot to say on this subject, except that I think it's usually a good thing when pregnant and breastfeeding women, infants and children who wouldn't have secure access to nutritious food can get that access. Brittney's roundups on NashvilleIsTalking are available here and here. Sarah Moore had two posts on the topic, focusing on women she sees as abusing the system, and stating,
"There is no Constitutional right to have children. The government does not have to take care of your children just because you feel like having them. This does not mean that I want only the wealthy and privileged to spawn. Nathan and I wouldn’t be alive if that was the case, and that would leave such a sad emptiness in the world. I believe that most people can afford children with realigned priorities and some planning. I just have a problem with women who see only wonderful aspects to dependence on WIC. Are they going to teach responsiblity to their children?"
Bad, Bad Ivy also had two posts, and points out that sex education and real solutions to poverty are more effective than simply demonizing women who might take advantage of WIC. Ivy also makes the valid point that birth control fails, so it's not necessarily true that women using WIC weren't trying to prevent pregnancy. I was surprised by how much animosity this topic seemed to evoke, with people blaming women for not waiting to have children, and generally expressing resentment that *some* women may not need all the support WIC provides. I understand that nobody likes waste or people gaming the system. However, that's going to happen in any large government program. You want changes to WIC eligibility or procedures, talk to your government. I think there probably are some problems with the types of food included and lack of breastfeeding support. Otherwise, maybe try not to demonize women because they're poor and had the audacity to give birth. Because being pro-life isn't just about approval of rich mothers, and should go beyond the moment of birth.

The background:
  • Average Monthly Food Benefit Per Person (Person=Participant) ($37.50)
  • Answers to frequently asked questions about WIC - includes eligibility requirements, which are nutritional risk and/or income limits. For a family of 4, the income limit (before taxes) is $35,798.
  • $5.3 billion was appropriated for the program for 2005. Compare that to other government spending items here.
  • How WIC helps

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