By Jason Michael

Asking a woman to prove her child was conceived as a result of rape in order for that child to receive state benefits is in itself horrific, but it is also the final nail in the coffin of a deeply toxic state system. This is where we are at in modern Britain.

It may have seemed reasonable a few years ago to argue against the British state on the grounds of pure human decency, but no more. Austerity in the United Kingdom has managed to plumb such entirely new depths that we can be sure now we are talking to beasts – people whose moral compass is so skewed their policy decisions can only be considered an affront to human dignity. Child Benefit – originally the Family Allowance – was introduced to help struggling families, and has gone a long way to lifting many children out of poverty and destitution. Now, when Britain has succeeded in becoming Europe’s most unequal country, this boon to our most vulnerable citizens has become the latest victim of Westminster’s brutal austerity programme.

From today parents and guardians will only be entitled to state benefits for two children, a move – reminiscent of China’s one child policy – that will drive many more children below the poverty line. But there are a few exceptions, and this is where it gets really ugly. If a woman or girl can prove their child was “conceived without [her] consent” – an appalling euphemism for rape – that child will be eligible for Child Benefit. We can run ourselves round in circles trying to show the irrationality and the inhumanity of this to the policymakers, but I fear we will only be wasting our time. They know fine well what they are doing. These people are many things, but they are not stupid.

There are two elements to this which need to be addressed; the cap itself and the “rape clause.” While the latter has rightly generated anger across the UK, the former – which has been greatly overshadowed by the latter – is every bit as brutal and cruel. Pregnancy happens. It is one the facts of life, a natural result of a normal, healthy sex life. Planned or unplanned, babies result from pregnancy and babies are expensive little things. It is not my intention to reduce all of the marvels that is the life of a new baby to the bottom line of pounds, shillings, and pence – but that too is one of the facts of life. Not everyone can cope with this burden the same, and all of our circumstances change – from conception to the grave. Child Benefit has at least eased that burden for many parents.

Without the assistance of the state many women will be forced to choose, either to have “another mouth to feed” or to have a termination. Either decision is an assault on the mother’s basic human rights – not to mention those of the child. Childhood poverty remains the highest indicator in the UK of poverty in later life, and this has many adverse consequences for people. What the government is doing here is ensuring that more children will be condemned to a life of poverty. Abortion, regardless of our personal opinions, should never be the result of economic necessity – no woman should ever be forced to terminate a pregnancy for lack of financial and material support from the state. This is in direct contravention of the human rights of the mother and the child (UN Convention on the Rights of the Child).

Asking a woman or girl to prove that they were the victim of rape is abhorrent – pure and simple, as is the other “exception;” that the child was the result of a violent or abusive relationship. No state – and no third party whatsoever – has the right to this level of intrusion into the private lives of any one of its citizens. This too is a clear violation of the basic human rights of the mother (UN Declaration of Human Rights, Art. 15 inter alia). Yet this is the authority over the person the state is now demanding in order to make an exception to a rule that is ipso facto an aberration.

As Britain prepares to withdraw from the European Union and the European Convention on Human Rights – promising to replace it with a British Bill of Rights – this is our first definite indicator of the shape this bill of rights will take. It is not good. It is not good for women and girls and it is not good for children – born or unborn. We can safely say now that a line has been crossed, one that will make it increasingly less difficult for the British state to chip away at the rights of more of its citizens.


Child Poverty in Britain

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