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Legislating chastity.

In their first fifty days, the House Republicans have advanced measures to shift money away from crime prevention and toward prison construction, cut spending on child care and nutrition programs for the poor, slash subsidies for home heating, trim AIDS prevention spending, gouge support to severely disabled kids and require that new regulations aimed at protecting health and safety be justified on a cost-benefit basis. If signed into law, these changes alone will make a life that is nastier, more brutish and measurably shorter for many, if not all, Americans.

But these proposals pale against the zealots' latest bizarre idea. Convinced that government must prevent out-of-wedlock births but worried that their proposal to deny welfare to children born to unmarried minors would lead to more abortions, Republican social engineers would now return us to shotgun weddings and bastardy statutes. Under their latest welfare reform proposal, states that reduce their "illegitimacy ratio"--defined as the sum of out-of-wedlock births and abortions, divided by the total number of births--will receive an annual cash bonus on their welfare grant. This is a frontal attack on abortion rights--and a false issue: The ratio of out-of-wedlock births is rising because married couples are having fewer kids, not because welfare mothers are having more.

"I really don't want to replace the social engineering of the left with the social engineering of the right," declared Speaker Gingrich at a pep rally for the Republican revolution in January. Sure, tell us about it.

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Title Annotation:the latest plan of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives is to award a cash bonus to states that decrease their 'illegitimacy ratio'
Publication:The Nation
Article Type:Editorial
Date:Mar 20, 1995
Previous Article:Zero gravity.
Next Article:The spying game.

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