The government is brushing off concerns it's becoming too involved in people's lives through plans to offer long-term reversible contraception to female beneficiaries and their teenage daughters.
From July, the government will spend $1 million to pay for doctors' visits and long-acting reversible contraception for teen beneficiaries, before the funded contraception - including intra-uterine devices, injections and implants - is extended to all female beneficiaries, and their daughters aged 16-19, in October.
Social Development Minister Paula Bennett says the move is aimed at reducing cost barriers to contraception, and stopping women having subsequent children while on welfare.
Ms Bennett was not at parliament on Tuesday morning, leaving Prime Minister John Key to defend the plans after criticism from opposition parties and beneficiary advocates.
"It's voluntary, it's totally reversible and all we're really doing is subsidising the ability for people to go to the doctor," Mr Key told media.
"I think at the end of the day if we give people better choices, and if they do become pregnant then at least it's a planned decision, then I think that that's very useful."
Labour leader David Shearer says there's a risk that beneficiaries will be intimidated by Work and Income case workers, and feel pressured to take up the contraception.
"I think it's really important that this is a matter between a woman and her doctor, not between a woman and a case worker," Mr Shearer said.
"It's also targeting women and not the men. At the end of the day, the fathers of these children are not being called to account."
Mr Shearer says Labour wants to see better access to contraception for all women.
Mr Key says it is appropriate for case managers to be involved, saying they have "quite a deep relationship" with their clients."They obviously talk to them about a wide range of issues and I would have thought for young girls, 16 and 17-year-olds in that category, then they're going to have quite an extensive relationship and discussion with them."
Do you vote in local body elections?Vote
Copyright © 2013 Yahoo! New Zealand
All rights reserved.
Select your region to see news and weather for your area.