By WeNews staff
Thursday, March 1, 2012
Ultrasounds and welfare drug-testing are just two of this week's news issues that could stoke the fire under HERVotes, a coalition of 50 women's rights groups formed in August that is announcing a major voter-mobilization effort today.
The controversy and push-back in Virginia, however, isn't discouraging anti-abortion legislators in Idaho and Pennsylvania, where the ultrasound issue is just coming up.
Nor does there appear to be any let-up on the attacks on women living at the edges of survival.
The conservative push for mandatory drug testing of welfare recipients in the program called Temporary Assistance to Needy Families, or TANF, has produced measures in nearly two dozen states, The New York Times reported Feb. 26, citing the National Conference of State Legislatures. Republican presidential front-runner Mitt Romney has called it an "excellent idea."
Researchers at the anti-poverty group CLASP--the Center for Law and Social Policy in Washington, D.C.--have found that drug-testing programs cost more to administer than they save by excluding participants, so it's not cost-effective.
Elizabeth Lower-Basch, senior policy analyst at CLASP, told Women's eNews in a phone interview a year ago that the law that instituted TANF does not say that recipients can't use illegal drugs. If states are going to test welfare recipients for "reasonable suspicion," it needs to be written out what that entails so as not to discriminate, she said. "Just because they are poor we can't suspect they are doing drugs."
The Department of Health and Human Services has found that--contrary to some stereotyping--use of illicit drugs is not much higher in families receiving public assistance. In one study they found a 9.6 percent rate of drug usage in the preceding month, compared with a 6.8 percent rate among families who receive no assistance. The administration also found that heavy alcohol use was slightly lower in households receiving assistance than in those that do not.
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