A recently proposed Pennsylvania House bill that would have limited benefits to low-income women who give birth while on welfare – unless they can prove their pregnancy is a result of rape – has been withdrawn.
According to The Daily Beast, the bill was quickly met with backlash after it was reported Thursday.
“The [bill's] language was not at all what I requested,” Republican Representative RoseMarie Swanger said. Swanger is one of the six state representatives who proposed the bill.
“After all the concerned contacts I got, I’m pulling that and working on something better next year,” she added.
House Bill 2718 was meant to discourage women from giving birth to additional children while in the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) program and it would have restricted any additional benefits for children born into the program. The only exception the bill provided was for births that resulted from rape. If a woman could prove she was a victim of rape or incest, by filing a report with authorities and signing a statement, she could prevent her welfare benefits from being reduced.
Swanger told The Daily Beast she was inundated with calls about the bill so she decided to withdraw it. Her hope had been to model the bill after a successful New Jersey law that limits welfare funds to families as they have more children.
Swanger also said she was surprised by the criticism the rape exemption received, defending it as protection for rape victims.
“I don’t think a woman [who is] raped, if she chooses to bear a child against her will, I don’t think a woman should be penalized,” she said.
The Republican representative has also chosen to distance herself from Indiana Senate candidate Richard Mourdock’s recent remarks about children conceived from rape being “an act of God.” She defended the rap exemption in the bill as language that “makes sense.”
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