How can we improve NZ abortion law?

Following on from my previous posts on the morality of abortion, a refutation of pro-choice arguments, and current NZ abortion law, I would now like to discuss ways we can improve the situation and reduce the number of abortions. Some of these ideas are my own, some are Family Party policy, some have been previously suggested by Chuck, and I would be very interested in hearing any other suggestions you may have.

  • Abortion should not be state funded.
    • The state has no money itself, rather it just spends taxpayers money. Regardless of the actual morality of abortion, many taxpayers believe it is immoral. They should not be forced to pay for something they strongly disagree with.
    • If people had to pay for abortions they might think twice about it, and the abortion rate would drop.
  • Life should be defined as starting from conception.
    • This is completely logical, and would simplify the issue enormously. But it would be difficult to get through democratically. This is a goal to aim for, but we must pursue more workable measures at the same time.
  • Marriage should be promoted.
    • Marriage provides the ideal environment to raise children in. If someone gets pregnant while married they are far more likely to keep the baby than if they were pregnant out of wedlock.
  • Parental consent (or at least notification) should be required for teenage abortions.
    • This may directly reduce abortion rates a little.
    • At present, a girl can have sex knowing if she gets pregnant she can have an abortion on the sly and her parents need never know. If she requires parental consent, or even just parental notification, she knows from the start her parents will find out. This may encourage her to make better choices and not get pregnant in the first place.
    • Some object to this because some parents may not treat the girl well about it. But through all of history parents found out when their daughter got pregnant. The current situation where they may not is artificial and invented by the State. Requiring parental consent / notification is just returning to the natural state of society.
  • Sex education needs to be truthful.
    • In my experience of Family Planning, I have found them blatantly lying on a number of occasions (lying about how contraceptives work for example, and the effectiveness of contraceptives against STDs). They promote contraception in a way that encourages sex, then promote abortion as the solution if you get pregnant.
    • Teenagers (and anyone seeking information) need to be told:
      • Sex is to make babies (duh! But currently it is mainly talked about as something fun).
      • If you have sex you may, and probably will eventually, get pregnant.
      • Boys, if you get a girl pregnant, YOU MUST PAY CHILD SUPPORT AND THIS IS HOW MUCH IT COSTS!
      • It is best not to have sex until marriage.
      • If you choose to anyway, these are your options for contraception and this is how they actually work (so teens can avoid those that allow conception but then kill the embryo).
      • This is what abortion is actually like, this is what a baby is like at that age.
      • These are the risks of abortion and the medical issues it can cause for you (e.g. increasing the risk of breast cancer).
      • There are X number of couples currently waiting to adopt a child, and they’d love to have yours if you get pregnant and don’t want to keep it.
      • Here are a list of agencies who offer counselling, adoption services, support for keeping the baby etc.
    • We need to either completely overhaul the Family Planning Association, or just get rid of it.
  • If a woman seeks an abortion, she needs to be given honest information about the procedure, her baby, the medical risks and complications it can cause, and be shown a scan of the baby in the womb to ensure she really knows what she is doing.

If you have any other ideas, stick them in the comments.

The New Government

National’s agreements with Act, the Maori Party and United Future have been released, and in general they look pretty good. They are discussed in detail on Kiwiblog here (Act, UF, Maori). I am going to look at a few points that relate to families, and Family Party policy.

Act:

  • Reduce and align personal, trust and company tax rates at 30% as a medium-term goal. Excellent.
  • Various measures to reduce bureaucracy and core government expenditure. Excellent.
  • Delay the ETS so it can be reviewed in the light of the current economic situation etc. It is unfortunate that they aren’t dropping it, but reviewing it is something. Not as good as the Royal Commission would prefer but it is still slightly hopeful.

United Future:

  • National will support a bill on Income Splitting to the first reading. So we won’t necessarily get income splitting (it will just be considered by parliament), and it won’t be for married couples (as our policy is) but rather for however Peter Dunne wants to define a family (which could just be for people with children, who knows). But it is a granny-step in something close to the right direction.
  • Greater use of private hospitals to reduce waiting lists. Excellent.

Maori:

  • Review foreshore & seabed legislation.
  • “The two parties both have policy priorities and there are areas of commonality and other areas of difference. The National Party and the Maori Party will work together to progress these priorities as and where agreement can be found.” Basically a wishy-washy way of saying they’ll be cooperating without saying what they’re planning to do.

Act and United Future agree to support National’s 11 policy priorities and post-election action plan (the Maori party will only support individual policies on a case-by-case basis, but National still has a majority without them), so this should all happen. These policies include:

  • Tax cuts. Good.
  • Cap bureaucrats, focus on frontline services. Good.
  • No parole for the worst repeat violent offenders. Good.
  • National standards in literacy and numeracy. Sounds a great idea, but it better come while cutting another piece of teachers workloads to compensate, they have enough paperwork already.
  • Maintain WFF and Kiwisaver. Good for families already reliant on WFF. It would be nice however to see a long-term plan where WFF was phased out in favour of equivalent tax cuts, there are plenty of problems with WFF.
  • Keep interest-free student loans & provide a 10% bonus on early repayments. Bad, in my opinion. And I have a student loan myself. More incentive to borrow big, as now not only do you not have to pay interest, you now don’t even have to pay off all the principal.
  • “Instruct that a full 12-month course of Herceptin be publically available”. Very bad, as it establishes a terrible precedent of state interference in Pharmac. Pharmac’s decisions can mean life or death for some people. It must therefore be able to decide where to allocate limited state resources based on expert opinion, not based on political interference, as politicians are more likely to be swayed by emotive marketing campaigns for drugs that may not be the best use of state money. Note there is not even a guarantee to increase funding to cover it, Pharmac may be expected to take money away from other drugs to cover National’s whim. Effectively, the government may be deciding who lives and who dies, based on how well drug companies can market their products – we really don’t want that.
  • Repeal the EFA. Excellent.

There’s loads of other stuff in there, it’s mainly good.

Rodney Hide, Heather Roy, Peter Dunne, Pita Sharples and Tariana Turia will all be Ministers. It is odd having Peter Dunne as a Minister, considering he only contributes one seat and National doesn’t need him to govern, but I expect Key is looking to the future and getting in his good books in case UF has more seats next time round.

Act has not negotiated anything with regards to the smacking law, but we can expect them to be strongly pushing for National to honour the will of the people in the upcoming referendum. So hopefully that will go eventually.

All up this is a positive direction for the country. But there are a few negatives in it, state interference in Pharmac being one notable point. It is better than what we’ve put up with for the last 3 years however.

Are Family Party policies affordable?

I was speaking at a meeting with the local candidates Amy Adams (National), David Coates (Labour) and Ivor Watson (ACT) on Wednesday. It went very well and I received a lot of applause and positive comments. People especially appreciated our stand on the smacking law and the drinking age.

Amy Adams had the last speaking slot however and said something like “I have news for the Family Party, these minor parties can make all sorts of promises because they haven’t costed them out, and we won’t implement them. All our policies are fully costed and affordable”, which I had no opportunity to counter. This objection is often made to all minor parties however.

There is no point in a minor party attempting to fully budget for if every single one of their policies were implemented, as this won’t actually happen so the figures would be useless. Rather we need to look at the impact of each policy individually, as each policy would be fitted into the budget of the major party in government.

So let’s consider our top 10 policy priorities, and whether they could be implemented by a National-led government:

  1. Repeal the Anti-Smacking law:
    Costs nothing. Saves money (better disciplined children = lower crime in future).
  2. GST off basic foods and other essentials:
    Will cost money. Some of this will be recouped through lower health costs (healthier foods & warmer homes = less health problems), but that won’t fully pay for it.
  3. More front-line police:
    Will cost money. But National is already budgeting for more police, not as many as we would like but it is a step in the right direction.
  4. Harsher sentencing:
    Could cost more, but National is going in this direction too, so already budgeted for. Part of our policy includes “disciplined hard work” for all sentenced prisoners, which will actually save money.
  5. Repeal the Emissions Trading Scheme:
    Saves billions of dollars. This does remove the government’s “windfall” tax profit from it, but National is intending to remove this anyway (although they will keep the ETS). Unlike National’s policy of retaining the ETS (slightly tweaked), our policy keeps far more money in the NZ economy, resulting in more economic activity here and a higher tax take.
  6. Constitutionally strengthen the traditional family unit:
    Costs nothing.
  7. Counter NZ’s abortion-on-demand culture:
    Fewer abortions = saving of public health budget. Adding education programs for mothers considering abortion = extra cost. Should be revenue neutral.
  8. Protect NZ’s Christian Heritage:
    Costs nothing.
  9. Repeal the prostitution law reform act:
    Costs nothing.
  10. Repeal the Electoral Finance Act:
    Costs nothing.

So we have:

  • 6 policies that cost nothing or should be approximately revenue neutral
  • 2 that cost money but are already at least partially budgeted for by National
  • Only 1 that costs additional money not in National’s budget
  • 1 that saves billions

It is quite clear we would have few financial problems introducing our top ten policies within a National-led government. Our one costly policy in this list is balanced out by one that would save billions (as compared to National’s budget), probably saving far more money than the other will cost.

Our policies are sensible, practical and affordable. We just need the numbers to persuade National to adopt them.

Furthermore it is extremely arrogant for a National candidate to suggest that National would not be implementing any policies of a potential coalition partner. If they wish to be in government they will have to compromise on policies, that is a fact, it is ridiculous to suggest they can rule alone under MMP, especially based on current polls.