Having Babies on the Taxpayer Dime: What, if anything, to do?

My co-worker and her partner, bless their souls, have adopted three brothers, ages 0-4, all born to the same mother. Mom is a homeless drug addict living in San Francisco, who seems to make a yearly ritual of getting pregnant, having a baby in the hospital, and then walking away with no-strings-attached.

She recently had her fourth baby, which my co-worker won’t be able to adopt because they are people of limited means (besides, who knows when that particular train is going to leave the station?). Co-worker also told me that mom isn’t even 30 yet! That tells me that she could have a long and storied career of baby-making still ahead of her.

It seems rather apparent to me that this is a non-optimal situation for basically everyone involved. Mom has to deal with being pregnant for 9 months out of every year (give or take), the state and/or city has to pay for her annual hospital bills, and the children are born with little to no prenatal care (not that they aren’t available, but if Mom is using, she probably doesn’t care about her monthly checkups) and the effects of prenatal drug use.

The debate is, what (if anything) is to be done about this situation? The more, um, “aggressive” among us might advocate for something resembling forced sterilization. I wouldn’t go as far as that, but at a minimum I think she would need fully subsidized contraception (preferably something pseudo-permanent like an IUD or Norplant) PLUS some other incentive. The contraceptive won’t likely be enough, because why would she want to take the time to have the procedure done? Clearly long-term planning isn’t in her nature.

Of course, it’s been mentioned that perhaps being pregnant is actually a net benefit to her, as panhandling is more effective when you’re begging for two. Keep in mind that this is taking place in San Francisco, a city with some of the most widely available services for the homeless of any city in the US.

Is there anything to be done here, really? Or is this just a case of “you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink”?

First thing to do is to have this moved from the BBQ Pit to GD. :wink:

Reported for forum change.

Ugh, I need to pay attention to which forum I’m in when I hit “new thread” :frowning:

Moved to GD.

Give the oft-pregged woman free drugs; half birth control, half the narcotic of her choice, if that’s cheaper.

How is this ‘on the taxpayer dime’ ? ( Not that that matters: our ancestors from prehistoric to quite modern times had babies all over the place and scrounged for survival from whomever they could [ and just as well they did, otherwise we wouldn’t be here ] ).
She is not keeping the babies, therefore she is not profiting from the taxpayer or state for their upkeep, which is the common accusation against such women: she is simply having whoever pays for her confinements cover the cost of hospital birth, which is a minor expense in the long run of the children’s lives and better than her giving birth in a ditch.
And why would she be having children to enhance her begging career if she gives them up for adoption ?

While I don’t know what happened while in the womb, but it seems like the children are in place where hopefully they are receiving love, and to me ‘loved children’ = ‘happy world’ (and the answer as to why our world is so sad but that is another GD). So in this case I see it as a positive.

If I understand the OP correctly, the state/city/county is paying for her hospital stays and all of the expenses incurred while birthin’ the babies.

OTOH, it is a very good chance that the babies she is having will have long term problems due to her lifestyle. Which will most likely end up costing the taxpayer at some point, especially if it turns out that no one else wants to take on the challenge that her babies will be. This woman having children is Not A Good Thing.

People tend to give more to obviously pregnant women.


I’m pretty sure that moral people said this about 90% of all the expectant mothers of the past based upon each individual circumstance of low income/lifestyle/religious ( and atheist ) mores/parental approval/race/heredity/medical care then available etc. etc…

But here we are.

I think it would be inadvisable to make policy decisions based on anecdotal evidence. And,

In any society, there will be a few people who are extraordinarily difficult if not impossible to help. In a society which provides a living wage to anyone willing to work for it (i.e. not our society) and drug treatment for anyone willing to submit to it (i.e. not our society), and universal health care (i.e. not our society), there will STILL be people like this. Many, many fewer than we have now, but they won’t go away.

Since we as a society have failed so many more worthy people than this woman, I don’t see how it is possible to discuss what should be done for/with/to her in any morally viable manner.

Yes, this is key.

Make policy to address broad social problems, and if this women reflects such a problem then OK. But as I see it, this is more of an isolated issue rather than a broad, social problem. If I’m wrong, and there is data showing us otherwise, I’m open to changing my mind.

I suggest calling the waaaaambulance.

I would. I don’t consider having babies a right; this woman has given up hers even if you do. Four babies and you aren’t responsibly looking after any of them? Snip snip time.


Okay, then, how much do you trust your local/state/federal government to make this decision for your area? How much do you trust the political party opposed to the one you’re aligned with to appoint people who’ll make the “right” decision?

And probably 10% of the time, they were right. As long as decisions are made based on the health and welfare of whatever children she might have, then like Cat Whisperer, I can’t see why the right of this woman to have babies trumps the rights of everyone else.

This doesn’t seem like a very grey area to me; four babies, can’t look after them, no more babies. You’ve proven you can’t handle it, and the last thing our world needs is more resource-sucking North Americans.

Very appropriate username/post combo.

Homeless and drug addict? Not yet 30? Not likely to live past 30 or 35 if she doesn’t straighten out. Homeless drug addicts don’t have normal average life expectancy.

So… you’re essentially advocating sterilizing her against her will. Maybe not permanent sterilization, but long-term sterilization nonetheless.

But hey, maybe we could ask her, because, you know, contraception is not free in this country and a homeless drug addict probably doesn’t have the $500-750 that a Norplant implant costs to purchase and insert. Of course, we’ll also have to deal with people screaming about enabling Evil Women to Have Sex when they should just keep their knees together and the usual crap about a group of people interfering with someone else’s reproductive decisions. Dunno, maybe if long-term contraception was free to the needy there would be less of this sort of thing?

^ Pretty much this.

Not as likely as you might think. Ideally, you want to intervene with the mother and kid during pregnancy, but post-pregnancy, given adequate nutrition, a stable household, and nurturing parents most of these kids will turn out more or less normal. In other words, these kids getting adopted by stable, non-addicts is probably the best thing that could happen to them.