This article was written by Anne Russell, originally published at Scoop.co.nz and reprinted in the June issue of The Spark.
Sue Bradford will speak on beneficiary rights on the opening night of Socialism 2012.
The battle over publicly-funded contraception in the US has led to many women breaking ranks with the Republican Party, who like to deny women autonomy over their bodies. At first glance, the National Party seems to be moving in the opposite direction from its US counterpart. The government recently announced proposals to put public funding towards contraception for beneficiaries. Not for poor people, mark you although many low-income earners also struggle to afford contraception—just for people who receive state support. While easy universal access to contraception would be a splendid idea, this particular policy does not appear to have autonomous women’s best interests at heart. Indeed, it arguably plays a part in controlling the reproductive lives of female beneficiaries.
While US Republicans apparently want all women to have more babies, National wants only certain women to stop reproducing. Minster for Social Development Paula Bennett said on TVNZ’s Q&A last June that while she was a fan of long-term reversible contraception for beneficiaries, “I don’t think we’re quite at compulsory sort of stages,”—as though it is a stage that might be reached at some point. The implication is alarming; as one person put it on Facebook: “The state deciding who is allowed to have children: historically, not awesome.” Read the rest of this entry »