It is not often that I give the National Government credit but I am about to. The proposal mooted in the New Zealand Herald today about the possibility of making Contraception free to beneficiaries is basically sound. If anything I would like to see that service extended. The fact that the Family Planning Association is supporting this proposal speaks for itself.
I know the Green Party has some reservations about the idea saying that they are concerned that some beneficiaries will come under pressure to accept this. The fact is that anyone availing themselves of this offer is doing it through free choice. I am sure that there would be many NZers who would like to see some pressure applied.
The sight of a Mum trailing along with five or more kids, looking like the world is on her shoulders is a sad one. I am sure that many would be mothers would like to take advantage of a free service, if it was available.
This proposal is not about abortion, but I suspect that those with strong feelings on that issue, one way or the other, will be out in force to push their agendas. All I will say is that I doubt many people wish to see abortion used as a method of contraception, as we see in some countries.
One must ask the question--- Will the proposal gain a life of its own and extend to cover more would-be mums? I see that 16-19 year old daughters will be in the scheme and I applaud that too. The number of young women leaving school at 16 (or younger) is worrying and if the idea as proposed has even a small effect on that scenario then that too is good.
I will wait to see how the debate goes. We can be sure that we are going to hear various viewpoints over this proposal. I would hope that these debates take in the bigger picture of where we want to be as a nation. I believe that most New Zealanders want the maximum participation of our citizens in all aspects of our society. It is time to put aside intolerant attitudes and get on with creating a better society. Now that the debate has been reignited re contraception access, then let’s continue it and make the necessary changes as we reach consensus.
Finally, is it not better to spend a little now in order to save a lot later in unnecessary expenditure on benefits further down the line? The costs involved in the proposal are quite modest but if the issue is not acted on, then the costs will be huge--- both in monetary terms and social ramifications. Let’s keep talking.