LaBruzzo: Sterilization plan fights poverty
Tying poor women’s tubes could help taxpayers, legislator says
Worried that welfare costs are rising as the number of taxpayers declines, state Rep. John LaBruzzo, R-Metairie, said Tuesday he is studying a plan to pay poor women $1,000 to have their Fallopian tubes tied.
“We’re on a train headed to the future and there’s a bridge out,” LaBruzzo said of what he suspects are dangerous demographic trends. “And nobody wants to talk about it.”
LaBruzzo said he worries that people receiving government aid such as food stamps and publicly subsidized housing are reproducing at a faster rate than more affluent, better-educated people who presumably pay more tax revenue to the government. He said he is gathering statistics now.
“What I’m really studying is any and all possibilities that we can reduce the number of people that are going from generational welfare to generational welfare,” he said.
He said his program would be voluntary. It could involve tubal ligation, encouraging other forms of birth control or, to avoid charges of gender discrimination, vasectomies for men.
It also could include tax incentives for college-educated, higher-income people to have more children, he said.
LaBruzzo, 38, is white, married to a lawyer, has a toddler daughter and holds a bachelor’s degree from Louisiana State University.
He is serving his second term in the Legislature, where he drew attention this year for advocating the controversial legislative pay raise and for trying to abolish the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway Commission and its Police Department.
His 81st House District runs from Old Metairie north to Bucktown and west along Lake Pontchartrain to the Suburban Canal. In a somewhat different configuration, it is the same district that sent white supremacist David Duke to the Legislature in 1989.
LaBruzzo described the tube-tying incentive as a brainstorming exercise that has yet to take form as a bill for the Legislature to consider. He said it already has drawn critics who argue the idea is racist, sexist, unethical and immoral. He said more white people are on welfare than black people, so his proposal is not targeting race.
LaBruzzo said other, mainstream strategies for attacking poverty, such as education reforms and programs informing people about family planning issues, have repeatedly failed to solve the problem. He said he is simply looking for new ways to address it.
“It’s easy to say, ‘Oh, he’s a racist,’ ” LaBruzzo said. “The hard part is to sit down and think of some solutions.”
LaBruzzo said he opposes abortion and paying people to have abortions. He described a sterilization program as providing poor people with better opportunities to avoid welfare, because they would have fewer children to feed and clothe.
He acknowledged his idea might be a difficult sell politically.
“I don’t know if it’s a viable option,” LaBruzzo said. “Of course people are going to get excited about it. Maybe we’ll start a debate on it.”