The Bergen Record reports that between 1992 and 1996, "there were about 1,400 more abortions than would be expected among women on welfare." During the same period, there were 14,000 fewer births among women on welfare than would be expected without the family cap provision. The study found that while the national birth rate among women of childbearing age dropped 7.8% over the four years, the birth rate plummeted 24% among women on welfare in the state.
The law prohibits welfare recipients from receiving an additional $64 a month to support children born while the mother is on welfare (Bergen Record, 11/2). However, the provision "specifies that a welfare client who has a child will receive increased food stamps, Medicaid coverage and even child care." The Rutgers study "marks the nation's first attempt to document the impact of the family cap," pioneered in New Jersey and adopted by 21 other states (Leusner, Newark Star Ledger, 11/1).
New Jersey's family cap provision has fueled the abortion debate throughout the state, even prompting some groups on both sides of the abortion issue to unite against the provision. Bear Atwood, president of New Jersey's NOW chapter, said, "The policy has not only put children at risk, but has also pushed women into having abortions." Marie Tasy of the New Jersey Right to Life Committee agreed, saying, "I think it's tragic" (Bergen Record, 11/2).
The Newark Star-Ledger reports that the study's findings leave pro-abortion Gov. Christine Todd Whitman (R), " in a difficult spot." Although she has backed the policy, she "has said she would review the policy if she is shown 'definitive evidence that the family cap has caused an increase in the number of children in poverty or that it leads to increased abortion."