Is it oppression or liberation? Eugenics or social responsibility? The New Zealand Government’s proposal to make free long term reversible contraception available to beneficiaries and their daughters has created a tidal wave of comment and has seen groups that do not normally see eye to eye agreeing with each other.
In its submission to the Social Services Select Committee the New Zealand Catholic Bishops’ Agency Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand has expressed very real concerns about the proposal for case managers to offer any woman on any kind of benefit, including married women, as well as the daughters of those on benefits between the ages of 16-19, free long term reversible contraception.
“The Catholic Church teaches a respect for human dignity and many of the proposals will damage that dignity. The key purpose of welfare changes should be to reduce poverty, not to make the vulnerable more vulnerable,” says the CEO of Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand, Julianne Hickey.
“If contraceptive options and incomes become linked, a beneficiary facing a case manager may feel they have little option at all,” she says.
“While the Government says that they won’t be coerced, we know that coercion can be subtle and when punitive measures are proposed for those who have subsequent children while on welfare it seems there is little option but to take it.”