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State's Grip on Women's Wombs Tightens

State's Grip on Women's Wombs Tightens

Women's contraceptive choices do not belong in welfare policy and the Government's preference for women on benefits to make particular contraceptive choices represents a violation on their human rights says Christy Parker, Senior Policy Analyst at Women's Health Action Trust.

Ms Parker is responding to last nights announcement by Social Development Minister Paula Bennett that all women on a benefit and female dependents of beneficiaries aged between 16 and 19 years will be offered financial assistance to use long-acting reversible contraception, with the policy due to be extended to other women on benefits later in the year. Increasing the availability and affordability of contraception including emergency contraception for women on low incomes would be a welcome move. However for the Government to single out one kind of contraception (LARCS) for one group of women, 16- 19 year old women on a benefit or the female dependents of beneficiaries, is a step way too far and undermines women's reproductive human rights states Ms Parker.

The right to plan ones family has explicit protection in International law. This entitles both women and men to the full range of contraceptive choices, as well as to information about sexual and reproductive health. Singling out young women on benefits and the female dependants of beneficiaries, and funding the uptake of only one type of contraception, undermines their ability to make an informed choice about the method of contraception, if any, that is right for them states Ms Parker. The announcement of this funding package demonstrates the failure of the government to consider women's human rights and gender equity in welfare reform and elsewhere. This is a trend that will likely raise the ire of the United Nations committee on women's human rights the CEDAW committee - to which the New Zealand government is due to report in July. It is time that the New Zealand government takes its human rights obligations seriously including women's reproductive human rights states Ms Parker.

Women on benefits, as do all women, have the right to access the full range of contraceptive choices and decide what, if any, contraception is right for them reiterates


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