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In which the government makes me feel slightly ill - Tactical Ninja

May. 8th, 2012

09:55 am - In which the government makes me feel slightly ill

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OMG, they actually did it. Our government is going to fund free contraception for (and I quote) "Women on benefits - including teenagers and the daughters of beneficiaries."

"What, condoms?" I hear you say. "After all, surely if a government was going to subsidise access to contraception, they'd realise that making it easily accessible to everyone would be a good idea."

Nope. We're talking IUDs and implants, mainly. Long-term reversible contraception usable only by women.


Last year I wrote an essay about Project Prevention as a state crime. The essay is now being used as an example to other students on how to write about state crime.

Project Prevention is a charity in the US (and now internationally) that offers money to women with histories of problem drug use to get sterilised or use long term contraception. My argument was along the lines of HELLO EUGENICS (which any targeted contraceptive program is likely to facilitate), HELLO COERCION because, you know, power imbalance and how that affects the capacity to contract, and HELLO COMMODIFICATION OF PERSONHOOD - you know, like selling reproductive capacity?

The state crime part was Project Prevention's a) continued existence in contravention of the US's responsibilities under human rights agreements and its own case law, and b) support by the government through tax-exempt charity status.

Anyway, that's not quite the same as what's happening here, is it? After all, free contraception isn't the same as offering money, and beneficiaries aren't the same as crack addicts, right?

Well, in terms of whether the authorities think they should have the agency to decide for themselves whether they have children or not, apparently they are.

Now here's a thing. Free contraception is a damn good idea. Part of what I discovered when writing my essay last year was that in the US there are 3 million women who don't have access to contraception - as you can probably guess those people come from marginalised groups, generally living in poverty. Well that certainly sounds like beneficiaries! And I'm all for improving access to contraception for everybody.

Not just beneficiaries.

Not just women.

Not just long term contraception.

I ask, why? OK so cost can be a barrier to beneficiaries, more so than to other people. But in this economy there are people who are working whose income is in the same bracket as a beneficiary. They could do with help to avoid the extra cost of having more children too. By targeting beneficiaries with this subsidy, it's making it clear exactly who the government thinks should be discouraged from having children. They made that clear when the Welfare Working Group made its report - having more children while on a benefit is a no-no, and as of later this year there will be sanctions for anyone who does it. This isn't about helping people avoid having children, it's about stopping certain groups from having children.

And why only women? Yes, we know it's easier to make women responsible, after all, more money's been spent on researching ways of controlling women's fertility, and thus there are more options for women. You can shove something in our arm and we'll not breed for 6 months. You can shove something in our uterus and we'll not breed for 5 years. That's convenient! And you can shove something in our daughter's arm too, apparently, to stop her breeding - because we all know that if you're a single Mum your daughter should be on contraception, what with the inherited promiscuity and everything.

Sorry, got a bit carried away there. This makes me spit tacks. Condoms are not only an effective method of contraception, they also help prevent the spread of STIs, and are available as an option to EVERYONE. Not.Just.Fucking.Women. By this move, the government has made it very clear that it thinks we are the ones responsible for ensuring children don't happen, and by its policy it's clear the government will punish us if they do. As usual, no requirement for men to play their part. How about, if we're going to be draconian in our harrassment of beneficiaries, a forced paternity test on any child born to a female beneficiary? And some sanctions applied to said pater? Oh yeah, that'd be too hard, let's just slap some Depo in the women and job's a goldie!

And why, when the Welfare Working Group's own figures show that teenage pregnancy isn't really a problem in New Zealand, is there such a hooha going on about making sure young women can't get pregnant?

Don't get me wrong, I'm happy that people who previously may not have been able to access contraception will now be able to. That is awesome. But when those people are only women, and only beneficiaries (and their daughters, let's not forget them), it smacks of perpetuation of stereotypes at best. When you include the power imbalance associated with the beneficiary/case manager dynamic, and the sanctions that will be applied to ensure people comply, it becomes something different. It becomes eugenics under coercion. And last time I checked, having a family was still in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

I suggest that Ms Bennett and her cronies consider including condoms in this subsidy, and making it available to anyone who qualifies for a Community Services Card (card offered to those on a low income to subsidise healthcare). It would achieve the same purpose, probably at not much greater cost - and it'd be a great and wonderful thing instead of this travesty of poor-shaming.

No doubt the conservatives will love this. After all, women shouldn't have sex, and poor people are inferior, right? Being a woman AND poor just won't do! Such people should be controlled for the sake of MAH TAX DOLLARS WAH!

I'd also like to suggest that Ms Bennett stops saying 'we' when she means 'the government'. It makes my skin crawl.

Argh, I can't do this any more. Here, have an ugly cat:



I'm told this face-shape on Persians was selected for with the aim of making them 'cute'. I don't think this is cute, it just looks deformed to me. Is there a point where it's gone too far? Is this cat it?\


Meanwhile, my shiny LED knitting needles (courtesy of @pixelbrid) have been getting a workout:



They really work! And are available here.

Comments:

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From:nessaneko
Date:May 7th, 2012 10:06 pm (UTC)
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I don't understand why the funding for this hasn't gone towards something like Family Planning - I have absolutely no doubt that they could use more funding, especially if the government wants to promote IUDs and Implanon (which, if you are in the market for long-term contraception, are probably some of the best options) Only the copper IUD Paragard is subsidised at the moment, so anyone wanting a Mirena or implant can wind up paying over $300 - surely it'd make more sense to give Family Planning funding so that they can subsidise both IUDs and the implant on a sliding scale depending on income.

Also, Family Planning will give you a $3 prescription for condoms - you don't even really have to ask, they offer it to you. This leads to hilarity when you take them up on the offer and figure you might as well get the maximum number of boxes that you can, which turns out to be 12. 12 boxes of condoms. The pharmacist had to put them in a plastic bag.
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From:tatjna
Date:May 7th, 2012 10:14 pm (UTC)
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It's simple - Family Planning doesn't target beneficiaries. The government wants the power to push beneficiaries into particular kind of contraception, and simply funding Family Planning wouldn't ensure they have that power.

Even just making sure people knew that they could get free consultations/contraception at Family Planning would make a difference - I doubt any coercion would really be needed.
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From:pythia
Date:May 8th, 2012 12:26 am (UTC)
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My Mirenas cost me ~$580, and that was getting the IUD throug a local pharmacy ($420) and inserted through my regular doctor - I tried family planning, and they couldn't get me an appointment for three weeks, and then it was going to be at least another three weeks before I could get an actual insertion appointment. They had the cheapest cost for the actual Mirena IUD, but refused to sell me one if I wasn't getting it inserted with them.
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From:tatjna
Date:May 7th, 2012 10:11 pm (UTC)
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I remember getting them as a full time student, for free from Family Planning. But that was before this whole user pays health thing started to happen. The Pill was free back then too.

I'm glad condoms are relatively readily available. I find myself wondering why this fact isn't being put into those articles about contraception for beneficiaries in large glowing allcaps.
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From:nessaneko
Date:May 7th, 2012 10:21 pm (UTC)
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FP still only charges $23 for a non-Community Services card-holder. Assuming you can take one of the fully subsidised Pills (a big assumption nowadays - the one my doctor tried me on last cost $45 for a three-month supply), there'll be another $3 charge for the prescription to be filled, and maaaaaybe another $3 if you get the condoms prescribed (I can't remember whether script fees are cumulative). So under $30 for a full-time worker earning too much to qualify for a Community Services card is pretty damn amazing, probably far cheaper than going to see your GP. Once you start getting into the realms of non-subsidised/non-fully-subsidised pills, it can get expensive very quickly, which along with the negative side effects is eventually what made me give up on the Pill in general.

The charitable side of me wants to think "Perhaps it's because condoms, in general usage, aren't as effective as hormonal/IUD contraception?" but I very much doubt that this was the mindset of the government when it came up with this initiative.
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From:tatjna
Date:May 7th, 2012 10:26 pm (UTC)

For all your extreme knitting needs

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Those are sock-knitting needles. Maybe socks need more indestructable equipment?
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From:whatifitworks
Date:May 7th, 2012 11:13 pm (UTC)
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Ahh. I have to get me some of those!

(LED needles, not free contraceptives ...)
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From:tatjna
Date:May 7th, 2012 11:15 pm (UTC)
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They are the business, and not as OHGODTOOBRIGHT as I thought they might be. Also, they make the yarn look pretty.
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From:whatifitworks
Date:May 7th, 2012 11:24 pm (UTC)
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Excellent. I have ordered :)
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From:pythia
Date:May 8th, 2012 12:23 am (UTC)
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This pisses me off because...well, my IUDs cost me $580 each and I couldn't get mine funded because my iron level was ONE point above the limit for funding. Except I have since heard of plenty of people who got theirs funded simply because they had heavy periods - which I had in SPADES (like, going through a super tampon ever hour or so) and I also had debilitating stomach cramps.

At the time I was studying full time and working 2 days a week, and getting aproximately $200 a week.

Don't forget condoms are already funded, I think. I remember being able to get 144 for $3 back when I was using them.
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From:tatjna
Date:May 8th, 2012 12:29 am (UTC)
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Yeah, condoms are funded, but they aren't being pushed at male beneficiaries. In fact male beneficiaries don't get a mention at all. It's like they don't have sex or something!
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From:wildilocks
Date:May 8th, 2012 03:35 am (UTC)
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If I was a knitter, I would be all over those needles like a sticky thing on another thing.

Also, I agree with the grrrr about govt handling things extremely poorly, ad nauseum. Their tactics of their rhetoric are just pure evil, couched in "but we want to HELP people" - whilst encouraging an ever-widening gap between the haves and have-nots by their consistent bennie bashing. It's so depressing they do not understand that this model is not a good one, and that they are heading towards NZ becoming third-world, in what should be one of the most successful first world nations.

The most ironic thing about this new policy though, is that it may actually allow some women who might otherwise end up a single mum on benefit to escape their class origins - kindof the opposite of what the govt seems to want (to be able to blame the lower class for their position, natch) so there's something kind-of hilarious about the whole debacle - when one isn't seething with rage, that is.
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From:tatjna
Date:May 8th, 2012 05:57 am (UTC)
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It will definitely help some people, yeah. But I really wish they'd just make that ALL people who need it and have done with it instead of targeting one group.
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From:Will Marshall
Date:May 8th, 2012 03:58 am (UTC)
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I don't have anything to add, but I'd just like to make sure you know that I know far more about contraception than you, because child support and male suicide rates.
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From:tatjna
Date:May 8th, 2012 05:56 am (UTC)
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You forgot about the misandrous gynocracy and the alpha cock carousel.
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From:pombagira
Date:May 8th, 2012 08:00 am (UTC)
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i would like like to say Ms Paula Bennett can suck my fecken cock..

*gnashes of teeth*..

so where can we vote no confidence in our current govt??
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From:anna_en_route
Date:May 8th, 2012 08:17 am (UTC)
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if you can get enough signatures on the petition circulating for a referendum on asset sales that should be a nice start towards a no confidence vote
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From:gemmagic
Date:May 8th, 2012 08:31 am (UTC)
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That cat is ugly. O.o

I can definitely see the point you are making. I know case managers can be pushy about things.

I also think the forced paternity tests would be a better idea. My sister-in-law is an unemployed single mother who recently had a baby with a guy who refuses to have his name on the birth certificate as he doesn't want the financial responsibility even if he ends up on the dole (why he thinks he could end up on the dole when he is qualified in 2 trades is beyond me, but anyways... the baby's money is coming solely out of taxpayer dollars instead of that irresponsible jerk).
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From:Dramaddock James
Date:May 8th, 2012 12:02 pm (UTC)

FYI, on the offchance that you missed it

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In related news...

Short version: http://malecontraceptives.org/methods/risug.php
Long version: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S001078249700142X

I would absolutely do this.
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