Rick Santorum often speaks about the importance of family, but in 1994, while his party was going after “welfare queens”, the then-second-term Congressman singled out single mothers. Mother Jones’ Tim Murphy and Andy Kroll report that at town hall meetings and TV appearances from the era, Santorum often said single parenthood contributed to crime, moral decay, and the welfare rolls:
“What we have is moms raising children in single-parent households simply breeding more criminals,” he said. When Santorum wasn’t comparing single mothers to animals, he still pressed the issue of out-of-wedlock births and crime. He told the Philadelphia Inquirer in 1994 that “we will never solve the crime problem unless we solve the welfare problem. They are deeply intertwined.” [...]
Santorum, who as a second-term congressman described his views as “moderate,” made single mothers a focal point of his welfare policy. He introduced legislation that would have required single mothers who had been on welfare for more than two years to work at least 35 hours a week in order to receive benefits. They would also be denied benefits if they could not identify their child’s father. “If they don’t give the name, they don’t get any welfare,” Santorum told the Inquirer. Under his plan, which did not pass Congress, unwed teen mothers would not be eligible for welfare at all.
Single-parent families made up just over a third of American families in 2010, according to the Annie E. Casey Foundation.
Under Santorum’s welfare plan, which didn’t go anywhere, “unwed teen mothers would not be eligible for welfare at all.” Of course, if Santorum had his way, they wouldn’t have have been able to obtain an abortion either. So it’s not clear what Santorum would do with a teenage mother who was forced to bring her baby to term, but then could receive no help from the government.
While Santorum and other conservatives have mostly learned that bashing single mothers is not particularly effective politics, a Republican lawmaker in Wisconsin proposed a bill last week that would require the state to declare that single parenthood is “a contributing factor to child abuse and neglect.”