Targeting Unmarried Mothers: Cavaletto and House Bill 6064

Robin Bridges, Editor in Chief

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Illinois Representative, John Cavaletto, surely has plans to financially support all the unmarried mothers in the state. That’s the only reason I can think of for why he would submit a bill making it near impossible to obtain a birth certificate for new children. What a standup guy!

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Let me break it down. House bill 6064 (HB6064), listed on the Illinois General Assembly website, is an amendment to Illinois vital records rules. Currently, the rules for obtaining vital records are generally as simple as filing a request and providing proof of identity. Very straight forward and from this point an individual would continue on with their life.

A birth certificate is something that all citizens need in order to function in any official capacity, at least in Illinois. It is needed to enroll a child in most, if not all, head start programs and public schools. It is needed to get a state ID, driver’s license or job. It is even needed to apply for state benefits. State benefits include more than just Food Stamps, also known as Link or SNAP, and a Medical Card. It includes things like child care assistance, child support, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), unemployment insurance benefits and other subsidy programs that the state funds to help middle and low income families. Many of these programs cannot be applied for without a birth certificate or other citizenship ID for individuals.

Cavaletto’s proposed amendment, specifically targeting unmarried women who give birth to live children, removes a provision in the current law concerning the biological father’s name on a birth certificate. If a mother cannot or refuses to name a father, and another member of the family has not volunteered to be legally and more importantly accept financial responsibility for the child, no birth certificate will be issued.

In addition to withholding birth certificates from U.S. citizens, the amendment proposes that the mother will be ineligible for financial aid from the state for that child. The caveat being that artificially inseminated mothers can obtain birth certificates, but still must waive her rights to any financial aid support from the state.

Either case, the one who really loses is of course the child. What happens when that mother has to reduce her hours in order to care for her newborn? Or worse gets fired because she isn’t performing to the level that she used to before becoming the sole provider for a small helpless human being? Illinois is one state that unfortunately does not require employers to even offer pregnancy or family leave, let alone pay for it. At least seven of Representative Cavaletto’s proposed bills have involved the area of state financial aid. Not only his most recent amendment to vital records procedures, but even in January of this year not one but two amendments to LINK and TANF. Both submitted on the same day, the amendments would essentially limit who can use these benefits and how. It is also worth noting that two of his seven proposals were for the investigation and defunding of Planned Parenthood. Proposals like these seem to be aimed at a certain group of people who are not a priority, even though they should be.

Single mothers, families and individuals who rely on LINK and TANF, patients of Planned Parenthood clinics and others political code for poor women are the target of these and similar amendments.

It makes me angry!

This elected representative of the people who has served since 1971 has no idea what he’s doing. What is the point of becoming a politician if you can’t or won’t help anyone? To collect a paycheck while cutting funding for services that serve the poor? Perhaps Representative Cavaletto and others like him plan to pool their paychecks to buy groceries and pay medical bills for the people stripped of these human services.

Certainly, they could afford it.