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Rick Santorum Once Wanted To Require Unwed Mothers To Reveal The Child's Father To Get Welfare

"We must also bring fathers back into the picture and require responsible behavior from them... One way to accomplish this is to require mothers applying for welfare to identify fathers of children born out-of-wedlock."

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In a 1995 opinion piece in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Republican presidential candidate Sen. Rick Santorum wrote that "mothers applying for welfare" should be forced to "identify fathers of children born out-of-wedlock" in order to "bring fathers back into the picture" and "require responsible behavior from them."

"Mothers are not the only ones who should be the focus of reform," he wrote. "We must also bring fathers back into the picture and require responsible behavior from them. My plan requires states to increase paternity establishment from the current average of less than 50 percent to 90 percent. One way to accomplish this is to require mothers applying for welfare to identify fathers of children born out-of-wedlock."

"In addition to less government support for out-of-wedlock and teenage births, any real welfare reform strategy must require able-bodied mothers on welfare to work," he added.

On Wednesday evening, a spokesman for Santorum, Matt Beynon, said, "Just as he did when he led the effort to pass the landmark Welfare Reform law, Senator Santorum continues to believe that our welfare system must be about both compassion and responsibility."

"Our welfare system must be fair to both those who are receiving benefits, but also to those taxpayers who are funding it," he said. "This is why Senator Santorum believes that both parents, not just the heroic single moms but the fathers of those children must have responsibility in those efforts."

In the 1995 piece titled "Making Welfare Well And Fair," the senator further argued "government welfare programs" sent the "wrong message" when they "reward you with you with cash payments, food assistance, medical care, and even housing" after a mother will "have a child, don't say who the father is — and stay single."

"Although parents and a variety of public and private programs tell young men and women to avoid having children, government welfare programs undermine this message. The wrong message we send is that if you have a child, don't say who the father is — and stay single — then we'll reward you with cash payments, food assistance, medical care, and even housing."

The senator said that the taxpayer cost of "$30 billion this year in welfare benefits for families headed by mothers who had their first child as a teen-ager" did not compare to the "overall cost to society and its effect on the family."

"Increasing rates of crime and poverty, not to mention the cost of irresponsible, unattached young males wreaking havoc in the streets of America," he continued.

Mother Jones previously reported controversial comments Santorum made about single mothers, at a town meeting in 1994. "'Open up the current periodicals — study after study, article after article, children having children is destroying the fabric of our country,'" Santorum said.

"'If you want to close your eyes to it, if you don't care about it, if you don't want to solve it, if you want to continue the system, to let people stay and spiral — go ahead. Not with me." Single mothers, Santorum argued, needed politicians who weren't afraid of 'kicking them in the butt.'"

Santorum reiterated the comments on the campaign trail in 1994.

"What we say is that in order for Mom to be able to go on welfare if she has a child out of wedlock, you have to tell us who the father is," Santorum said at an event in Carlisle, Pa., on April 1, 1994.

"If you don't tell us who the father is, you're not eligible for any welfare benefits, none, not even medical care. You tell us who the father is or you don't receive benefits."

Megan Apper is a political reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.

Contact Megan Apper at megan.apper@buzzfeed.com.

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