A politician in the Alaska legislature has suggested that child deaths from abuse could be good for public finances, but has been condemned by his colleagues.
David Eastman, a Republican in the Alaska House of Representatives, made the suggestion Monday at a conference on child abuse in the state.
Expert witnesses testified about the long-term harm child abuse does to the economy, workforce and taxpayers when both children facing abuse and the adults they grow up to depend on the government.
During his questioning, Mr Eastman focused on the possible “benefits” of child abuse, according to US media reports.
He asked an expert: “How do you respond to the argument I sometimes hear that in cases where child abuse is fatal, obviously it’s not good for the child but it’s actually good for society because there’s no need throughout that child’s life Government services, etc.?”
Expert witness Trevor Storrs, head of the Alaska Children’s Fund, asked Mr. Eastman to repeat his questions, adding: “You mean, ‘Is it good for society?'”
Republicans doubled down, responding: “Talking about the dollar… [it] Periodically it has been argued that this is actually a cost saver since the children will not need any government services that they may be entitled to and need when they grow up in this environment. “
He faced backlash, including from Democratic opponent Andrew Gray, who called the remarks “offensive, insulting and baseless,” adding that they undermined the “dignity of the House.”
Mr. Gray filed a motion of censure against Mr. Eastman on Wednesday, which passed 35 to 1 in the Republican-majority Legislature.
Only Mr. Eastman voted against it.
A condemnation vote would not have any official effect, but a way of publicly expressing grievances.
Mr Eastman later defended himself, saying his remarks had been “misinterpreted”, adding that he was “wrong to support child abuse because I have bet my entire political career on the opposition”.
It’s not the first time Mr Eastman has run afoul of his colleagues, becoming the first politician in the state’s history to be condemned in 2017 for saying some Alaskans were trying to get pregnant “so they could travel to the city for free” to get abortions receive punishment.