BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Blood pressure is rising in the public debate over a plan by one Louisiana representative offering what some might call a bizarre way to fight poverty.
Representative John LaBruzzo of Metairie wants to pay poor people to get sterilized and reward rich people for having children. His proposal is already fueling heated debate.
"How can these people qualify for food stamps with $40,000 cars that I can't afford and I'm paying taxes?" LaBruzzo asks. Since hurricanes Gustav and Ike, LaBruzzo says his constituents have been calling him, angry about people they say rely on the government for handouts. "We need to deal with this before it explodes," he says
So, he is toying with his own solution. He has come up with the idea of voluntary sterilization for the poor. As a reward, they would get $1,000 from the state government. "If we don't break generational welfare trend, lot of people feel taken advantage of, then another problem on our hands." LaBruzzo is also thinking about proposing tax incentives for people not on welfare to encourage them to have children. "So many people on the other side of the political spectrum are pro-choice. Well, let's give these people the ability to choose."
At this point, this is all in the planning phase. LaBruzzo has not filed an official bill. Julie Mickelberry with Planned Parenthood is hoping he'll find a more viable solution. "I think he needs to look at the root of the problems. Go back to addressing issues of education about unintended pregnancy and opening healthcare access and don't think have done enough of that in Louisiana," she says.
Mickelberry says LaBruzzo's ideas are more like bribery, not a long-term solution. "I know there are over 500,000 women in need of contraceptive services. We know 22% uninsured, so we need to be addressing those issues," she adds. "Some people do think reasonable option and think at least look at it," LaBruzzo says.
He is still gathering welfare data from Baton Rouge to determine whether his ideas would work. He says if it proves feasible, then he will file a bill in the upcoming legislative session.