Should People with Physical Disabilities Living On Government Assistance Procreate?

In Columns, Just My Bellybutton, Opinion by Nathasha Alvarez

Sunshine streaming through holes in the clouds down to ocean waters.

This has not happened in a long time but it’s happening now. I am approached via email about a topic that has been brewing in my mind for a while. About two months ago or so, a fellow Facebook friend sends me a message. She wants to know if  I’d consider writing about a controversial topic for Audacity Magazine.

She wants to remain anonymous because she works for a governmental agency that helps people with physical disabilities and her views could get her in trouble. And because she says we have too many friends in common and she wants to keep her friends. Umm, does she think I don’t? But you know. Controversy? Disabled people? Why, that’s up my alley!

She lures me into this conversation with this question: How do you feel about people who despite living off of the government decide to have a baby?

I tell her I think it is wrong. If they are living off the government, how can they afford to care for the baby? Why would they do this to their child? To themselves? I was filled with questions. It didn’t make sense to me. It seemed irresponsible.

Her second question takes me off guard: If you don’t think it’s ok for a non disabled person to get pregnant on purpose while living off the government, should a person with a disability be able to do this? Should a person with a disability be judged differently? On the one hand we, the disabled community,  want to be treated like everyone else but on the other hand, we want special rights? Where do we draw the line? Where does society draw the line on us?

She throws one question at me after another. I am no stranger to controversy but I wonder why she is asking me these questions. She explains that this hypothetical situation is happening more and more often but no one really wants to say anything because the people are physically disabled and it’s a bit taboo to say something that might offend them. Let us keep in mind that she also has a physical disability.

Ask Three Other Women with Physical Disabilities About Procreation

She thinks I might be brave and “audacious” enough to take this topic on with my readers.  I take her up on the challenge and immediately contact three other people with physical disabilities to see what they have to say about procreating while receiving government assistance.  I’m still waiting for one of the three to get back to me about it. I have a feeling she doesn’t want to discuss this because she and I have so many friends in common who might possibly fit the hypothetical situation.

Another person, Bobbi*, says that it doesn’t matter to her if the person is physically disabled or not. According to her, if a person can’t take care of herself, she should not be procreating on tax payers’ dollars! She says that she knew she couldn’t care for a child and herself so she didn’t have a baby.

Bobbi says she could have adopted one or given birth to one but she didn’t feel it was morally right. She says that if we want the government to stay out of our personal lives then we need to be as independent from them as possible. To her, that means not having to rely on government assistance unless absolutely necessary. Bobbi says that she’s been working since she was 15 years old and will continue to work until she can’t anymore. She uses a wheelchair, runs her own company and considers herself to be very liberal.

The third person, Bobbi Jo*, says she doesn’t agree with this idea either but that her reason might be selfish. According to Bobbi Jo*, the government cut back on the help they give her to live independently because the funds needed for her have to go to the person with a disability who chose to have a baby.

Bobbi Jo* has Muscular Dystrophy and has a personal care attendant who helps her bathe four times a week. She doesn’t like going to college on the days when she can’t bathe so now she chooses her classes based on her personal care attendant’s schedule. She feels that people who are physically disabled and get pregnant even though they live off of the government are depleting the funds that can go to help someone like her.

According to Bobbi Jo, if you need to survive off of tax funded programs then why burden the system even more by procreating?

Procreating While On Government Assistance

So there are many issues to take into consideration.


  1. If we want to be treated like everyone else, should we be held up to the same scrutiny? Society doesn’t like people who live off of the government and reproduce children. Does it make a difference if the person is physically disabled?
  2. With budget cuts left and right, is Bobbi Jo right in complaining about funds that are going to care for what society terms “welfare babies” instead of helping her get an education and later on become a hard working, tax paying citizen?

What do you think? Comment below. 

This topic is written in the hopes of intellectually discussing a topic that many people feel uncomfortable discussing on other platforms. Thank you, J* for contacting me about this topic. Please remember that Bobbie and Bobbie Jo are fictional names to allow these women to give their honest view on this subject. is always seeking audacious writers. Go here to find out more.

Sign up for the newsletter here.