It appears that the rule in California, which stopped families claiming extra benefits for any child born while they were receiving welfare payments, has been abolished. The ‘maximum family grant’, introduced in 1994, is the model for the scheme in the UK, about to be introduced in April, to limit benefits to the first two children; both are based in the idea that people who receive benefits shouldn’t have babies. Unusually the measure was opposed simultaneously by both the Catholic Church and Planned Parenthood. Because having children is not always a choice, it included exemptions for mothers who had tried to be sterilized and those who had been raped. There is no way of administering a scheme of this type without intrusive inquiries, injustice and distress.