No such thing as a free pill

If you haven’t already, please read the reasonably recent column Stuff.co.nz published on contraception.

It bothered me for a few reasons.

The author, like many articles by women on these matters, started with the assumption that she spoke for women because she is a woman.

But she didn’t speak for me. In fact, I felt stereotyped, and that the diversity of our sex was smashed into one tiny perspective.

That seems quite sexist to me.

But that wasn’t the only thing that bothered me. There was the inaccurate use of the word “free”. As we all know, nothing is free. Someone always pays. And when it comes to the claim that the “government should pay” what we are really saying is “my neighbors, mates and family should pay”. After all, the government is funded by them. It is funded by us. Its money is our money.

And as it happens, there are other things I would rather be spending my money on than contraception. At the cost of $90 a year the author gives, roughly 1 million 15 to 50 year old women would qualify. That’s $90 million our communities have to cough up.

That’s the money that was allocated to free GP visits and prescriptions for children under 13 from 2015 to 2017.

Must we cut other funding to afford “freebies”?

Well, no. We can raise taxes. Unfortunately, then, the money that my family currently spends on giving would have to go down. Because we don’t have much left over in the budget each week. We live as tightly as we can, because we don’t want to be a burden on others, but rather a blessing.

And the fact of the matter is that’s not weird, that’s normal. There are hundreds of thousands of Kiwi families around New Zealand living within tight budgets, quite joyfully, because the extra money is going on helping out friends and family, or other community members.

Why don’t they just tell the government to take care of the tab (by taxing the rich!)? Well, they know that a government taking care of things means paying officials to collect the extra tax, to allocate the extra tax, to disseminate the extra tax, to maintain the IRD website and be on the other end of its phone lines and…the list goes on. All those extra middle men cost one hang of a lot of money.

And basically, these Kiwis would rather precious dollars go to the problem, not the pointy heads. Even if it means a little more hard work for them.

Besides all of that, there are a bunch of Kiwis – Catholic, Protestant, Muslim or otherwise  – whose beliefs involve the idea that contraception is either bad, or given outside of marriage promotes sexual promiscuity that is damaging to our health and our souls. The author demands that they pay for her beliefs at the expense of their own.

That doesn’t sound particularly progressive, open-minded or supportive of diversity to me.

And the attempt to throw compassion for the poor in didn’t add up for me either.

You see, beneficiaries already get “free” birth control. According to Family Planning, those with Community Service cards can pay $5 for an appointment and get the Depo Provera Injection (which lasts for three months) or an IUD (which lasts for three or more years) for “free”. Doctors can offer three types of oral contraceptive pill that are already subsidised by the taxpayer, as is a prescriptions for 144 condoms.

Of course, we know now what “free” or “subsidised” really means though, don’t we?

All in all, I think enough of my money already goes on funding the author’s sex life.

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