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Bennett rules out sterilisation for abusive parents

Published: 6:27PM Wednesday June 06, 2012 Source: ONE News

Welfare advocates say a Government proposal that could prevent serious child abusers from having any contact with children is populist.

Social Development Minister Paula Bennett said today New Zealand has better rules around animal abuse than child abuse, and the measure aims to protect vulnerable children.

"We should tell them [child abusers] perhaps we will be removing future children at birth, that they can't work with or be in a house with children," Bennett said.

"We do it with dogs."

Bennett said the proposal, which will target both male and female child abusers, will not include sterilisation.

"We're not talking about sterilisation, which I've heard some of the extremes going on about. But we are saying 'we've had enough' and there needs to be some tougher sanctions."

But Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei said she is not convinced by Bennett's denial.

"I'm sure they have considered forced sterilisation in the past which is a very extreme policy."

Turei said CYF can already take children from mothers at birth if there is a serious risk.

"But a judge should not be making future decisions about a woman and her body and her reproductive rights."

Anti-poverty campaigner Sue Bradford said she thinks it is a "slippery step on the road to eugenics".

Bradford said: "Where do you draw the line and how do you implement it? If she's not talking about forced sterilisation, what is she talking about? Forced abortion perhaps?"

Last month Bennett caused a stir by announcing a million dollar programme to provide free contraception to beneficiaries and their teenage daughters.

The minister says more details on just who may lose the right to have children will be in a discussion paper released later this year.