Perhaps people should have the opportunity to choose to use infant formula, just as they are allowed to choose greasy hamburgers and cigarettes. The point here is that allowing a questionable product to be on the market is one thing. Having the government promote it is quite another. Having the government promote infant formula particularly among poor people raises enormous ethical questions. Does the balance of benefits and risks from the use of infant formula justify the government's providing infant formula to almost half the infants in the US?Whether you find yourself agreeing or disagreeing, the full essay contains answers to some of the natural questions. Are breastfeeding rates higher among participants or seemingly comparable nonparticipants? Is the WIC formula provision consistent with international protocols? Is it true that many women cannot breastfeed? Doesn't WIC actually promote breastfeeding? Is formula that much worse than breastfeeding anyway?
Even if they ask, WIC will not provide alcoholic beverages to its clients. The fact that they might ask for beer, for example, is not a sufficient reason to provide it. Similarly, the fact that some WIC clients prefer to use infant formula is not a sufficient justification for WIC to provide it. The large-scale distribution of free infant formula by WIC to all clients who ask for it is a situation that needs to be fixed.
Monday, November 20, 2006
Why does WIC provide free infant formula?
Comments are open for responses to George Kent's unforgiving criticism of WIC's free provision of infant formula, amounting to perhaps half of the infant formula consumed in the United States. Kent's essay appeared earlier this year in the International Breastfeeding Journal.
Posted 5:58 PM