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Calif. Lawmaker Proposes Bill To Repeal Law Targeting Women Who Give Birth While on Welfare

Calif. Lawmaker Proposes Bill To Repeal Law Targeting Women Who Give Birth While on Welfare

August 19, 2015 — California Senator Holly Mitchell (D) has proposed a bill (SB 23) that would repeal a California law limiting payments to women who give birth while on the state's welfare program, CalWORKS, in certain instances, Capital & Main reports.

The state Assembly's Appropriations Committee is scheduled to consider the measure on Wednesday. According to Capital & Main, Mitchell has proposed similar measures twice before, both of which have failed.


California in 1994 passed the law, called the Maximum Family Grant rule, which instated welfare restrictions on women who give birth while receiving aid from CalWORKS. The rule has some exceptions in instances when a woman has not received aid for at least two months during her pregnancy, or in instances of rape or incest. In addition, the rule has an exemption for pregnancies resulting from the failure of certain types of contraception, such as long-acting reversible contraception or sterilization.

Status of the Bill

The state Senate approved repeal of the cap in 2015, but it was removed from the final budget, Capital & Main reports. Mitchell expressed concern that the current bill could also be weakened in committee, such as by an amendment requiring women to prove they have used contraception.

Mitchell said the rule exacerbates low-income women's financial situations, and studies from University of California-Berkeley and Cornell University show that the Maximum Family Grant rule does not curb the birth rate among women receiving welfare.

According to Mitchell, some conservative state lawmakers have said they oppose the proposed measure because of budgetary concerns. The Assembly's Committee on Human Services estimated 134,900 children -- representing 13% of children in families that receive aid from CalWORKS -- are excluded by the Maximum Family Grant rule, and that including them in the program will cost between $188 million and $220 million (Lewis Mernit, Capital & Main, 8/17).