A Current Affair is seeking community feedback on a proposal to force women on welfare to be on contraceptives. This ludicrous idea is apparently the brainchild of former Labor MP Gary Johns as a way to end intergenerational welfare. This isn’t a new policy of Johns. He has raised it before, saying in 2014 that ‘it is better to avoid having children until such time as parents can afford them’. According to Johns, rather than providing better education for young people, access to free (voluntary) contraceptives and family planning facilities, ‘women on welfare’ should be ‘inserted with long-acting reversible contraception – a tiny rod inserted under the woman’s bicep.’
Apart from the obvious reasons why the policy is absurd, it is a clear violation of a woman’s right to personal autonomy and to control her own body. The very suggestion that a woman on welfare should be forced to undergo a medical procedure or be left (along with her children) to starve or fend for herself is so abhorrent, it should not be necessary to provide a genuine argument against it.
Any government who took this idea seriously would guarantee a fierce backlash from the voting public (unless they are ACA audience members who, judging by the ‘feedback comments’ are wholly supportive of vulnerable and disadvantaged women being forcibly interfered with by medical professionals), and international condemnation.
Johns proposal, while obviously insane, is also unworkable. If his intent is to stop ‘intergenerational welfare’ and prevent women from having babies while receiving tax dollars, he does not go nearly far enough to ensure that no child is born without the full protection of parental financial support.
If anything, Johns proposal only goes halfway to ‘solving the problem’.
Why? Because it only applies to half of the population.
Johns is either not serious about ending intergenerational welfare (as laughable as his policy suggestion is) or he has a weird obsession about women and their reproductive capability.
It takes two to tango. A man and woman, or more accurately, a sperm and an ovum.
If Johns’ policy is to be effective, it must be applied in every situation which might result in a woman having a child while receiving welfare benefits. There must be a contingency in place for ‘accidents’; something forced contraceptives are obviously intended to address. There must be consequences for every person involved in causing the pregnancy of a woman dependent on the State.
It must apply to the whole population.
It must account for women who fall pregnant, only to lose their jobs through redundancy or discrimination. It must account for those who separate after having children, only to reproduce again – especially men who may impregnate multiple women, leaving them to fend for themselves.
It is only once every conceivable contingency is considered and every risk mitigated that babies will be born in Johns’ idea of appropriate circumstances, to parents who can afford them.
A simple, equitable policy might look like this:
1 Compulsory Contraception
1.1. Once a male or female becomes of an age that he or she is capable of causing a pregnancy or becoming pregnant, he or she shall have medically implanted a reversible contraceptive.
1.2. For the purposes of clause 1.1., a medical practitioner is required to confirm a male or female’s reproductive capability and at that time, clause 1.1. applies.
1.3. Where a male or female first satisfies clause 2.1. but subsequently does not, he or she shall have medically implanted a reversible contraceptive.
2 Termination of Contraception
2.1. The contraceptive shall remain in place until such time as the following conditions apply:
2.1.1. The male or female has demonstrated responsibility in line with community expectations, including but not limited to:
a. is employed and has held that employment position for a minimum of 24 months.
b. Has an individual annual salary of not less than $60,000.00 per annum, to be indexed in line with CPI.
c. Has been in a committed relationship with their partner for a minimum of five years as evidenced by meeting strict criteria for financial, social, domestic and interdependent factors.
2.1.2. The male or female meets strict character requirements as determined by the responsible Minister from time to time and at the Minister’s discretion.
But what happens if a person does not yet meet all the criteria and the contraceptive fails?
3 Failure of Contraceptive
3.1. If a person to which cause 1.1. applies causes to become pregnant or becomes pregnant where clause 2.1. is not satisfied, the following applies:
3.1.1. Where the pregnancy is confirmed by a medical practitioner, the pregnancy will be terminated.
3.1.2. Where the pregnancy is not confirmed by a medical practitioner, the male and female responsible for the pregnancy will become ineligible for any welfare payments upon the birth of the child and both male and female will undergo irreversible sterilization.
3.1.3. For the purposes of clause 3.1., where clause 2.1. is satisfied at the time the pregnancy is confirmed by a medical practitioner, but then ceases to be satisfied, the pregnancy will be terminated.
3.1.4. Specifically, clause 3.1.3. applies where a male or female becomes unemployed during the time of pregnancy, or where the relationship ends. Clause 3.1.3. does not apply where the male or female’s salary is below the annual salary prescribed in clause 2.1.1.b. due to unpaid parental leave, provided that leave does not exceed 12 weeks.
But what if a relationship ends or a person becomes unemployed after they already have children? Another provision is required.
4 Future Dependency on Welfare.
4.1. Where a male or female has satisfied clause 2.1. and goes on to reproduce but subsequently does not satisfy clause 2.1., clause 1.3 applies.
4.2. Where a male or female becomes dependent on welfare for any reason and already has a maximum number of two children, he or she will be undergo irreversible sterilization.
No doubt Johns and the ACA audience will warmly applaud these policy suggestions; they are not the slightest bit ridiculous or in violation of any personal rights or civil liberties. And surely, if applied consistently across the population will ensure that no vulnerable or disadvantaged person ever becomes a parent while on welfare.
But is the policy workable? Does it account for human nature? Does it go far enough to protect the State from having to support young families?
Perhaps a better policy would be this:
1 Compulsory sterilization.
1.1. All males are to medically undergo a vasectomy procedure on maturity of their reproductive organs.
1.2. Once a male demonstrates he can financially support a child and is capable of being a good parent as defined by the Minister at his sole discretion, the male may seek approval to reverse the procedure.
While possibly harsh, and a little unfair, given it only applies to half the population, this probably will provide the most surety that unwanted pregnancies will not occur and single mothers won’t become a burden on society. It certainly provides more surety than a contraceptive implant for women. It also has the added advantage of ensuring men cannot unwittingly impregnate multiple women while merrily fornicating and sowing their wild oats, thus causing immeasurable cost to the State.
What say the public?
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