London Breed, the Mayor of San Francisco, recently announced an innovative new program designed to provide financial support for women expecting a child both during the pregnancy and for six months after the baby is born. Given the costs associated with prenatal care, medical expenses and the costs associated with raising an infant, that’s a nice idea, isn’t it? I’m sure plenty of mothers-to-be could use that sort of help. But as with so many things in this world, there’s a catch. Or a couple of catches, actually. First of all, it won’t be available to everyone. You have to be selected by the people in charge of the project. Oh, and don’t bother applying if you happen to be a Native American, Latina, or White woman expecting a child. The offer only applies if you are either Black or of Pacific-Islander background. (Yahoo News)
Some expectant Black and Pacific Islander mothers in San Francisco will get $1,000 a month during their pregnancy, officials announced, as the city looks to improve a longstanding racial gap in birthing outcomes.
Mayor London Breed on Monday introduced the Abundant Birth Project, which will give a basic income supplement to 150 Black and Pacific Islander women during pregnancy. They’ll get $1,000 a month through their pregnancy and for the first six months postpartum, “with a goal of eventually providing a supplement for up to two years post-pregnancy,” the mayor announced.
“Providing guaranteed income support to mothers during pregnancy is an innovative and equitable approach that will ease some of the financial stress that all too often keeps women from being able to put their health first,” Breed said in a statement.
Despite the good intentions being discussed, this initiative is obviously problematic on a couple of levels. When the government makes any sort of benefits available to people, they’re supposed to be available to everyone, though such programs can be tailored toward specific income ranges or geographic locations. While poverty and the challenges of pregnancy disproportionately impact minorities, there are no doubt plenty of Latina and White women out there who face the same challenges and could use some assistance. Defining the program as being specifically segregated by race is clearly an issue.
And then there’s the question of funding. If there’s taxpayer money involved, such racial goalposts are very problematic. But even if the money is coming from the private sector, the government’s role in deciding who qualifies and handling the distribution of the cash still makes it a dicey proposition. In the case of the Abundant Birth Project, the funding comes from both channels. Much of the money comes from private institutions such as the Hellman Foundation and the Kellogg Foundation, but other funds are drawn from the San Francisco Department of Public Health. That’s taxpayer money and there are rules as to how that gets spread around.
But even if they can overcome the legal hurdles, how precisely does the Mayor’s office plan to determine who does or doesn’t qualify for this basic income guarantee for pregnant women? Who precisely will be considered “Black enough” to be accepted into the program? Would Rachel Dolezal be eligible? I hear she’s been pretty much dead broke every since her racial impersonation act was exposed. How about a hypothetical sister of Barack Obama who lives below the property line? Is having one White parent enough to disqualify you? The same questions apply to anyone’s “Pacific-Islander” status.
If a mayor in some other city announced a similar program that was only available to Jewish women you would see rioting in the streets. (Assuming anyone would notice in the midst of the rest of the rioting that’s going on.) But since we’re talking about San Francisco and politically favored classes as defined by race, it’s just another day that ends in a Y, I guess.