Given that we’re all tightening our belts at the moment, and the Government (soon to be ex-Government if my vote has any say in it) has admitted that there will have to be budget cuts, may I suggest the following proposals for ways that the Department of Health could save money?
- Remove the entitlement to free abortions unless the life of the mother is in physical danger. By all means permit women to have abortions under the current law, but given that couples on the whole chose to have sex they should take upon themselves the financial consequences of their actions. If they choose to terminate a pregnancy because of issues with the child which are not life-threatening (e.g. Downs), then once again they should be responsible financially for that decision. Certainly, if they are having an abortion for social reasons then why should the State pay?
In the UK they are about 200,000 abortions a year, costing on average Â£400 – a saving of Â£80 million.
- Remove the entitlement to a free prescription for the contraceptive pill. By all means allow women to have the pill prescribed, but given that we need to be responsible for our sex lives, why should I have to pay for someone else’s family planning? Granted, some women are prescribed the pill for medical reasons, but once again, we don’t exempt others from prescription charges unless they have a specific medical exemption because of a potentially terminal condition.
3.5 million women take the pill and once they have established which one is suitable for them, prescriptions are written on average for 6 months worth. Prescription charges are currently Â£7.20 in England and Wales so the total saving (on a conservative estimate) in one year would be c. Â£50 million
There you are – Â£130 million worth of savings, just by encouraging people to be responsible for their own sex lives.
The Tories are too fearful to dare to do something as sensible and reasonable as this. The likelihood of the LabDims doing is is nil. UKIP might conceivably support it, but the one party that certainly would is the one party that really believes what you do about freedom and personal responsibility, namely the UK Libertarian Party (http://www.lpuk.org/). Why not check them out?
Aren’t prescriptions in Wales free?
Anyway, given that those who have things like high blood pressure and other conditions that are damaging to their health have to pay for their prescription drugs, I don’t see why contraception pills should be, especially given that men tend to have to pay for condoms – it’s liberating for women and will help with STDs – doesn’t mean that it’s the woman’s fault for having a child – as it is now with the Pill being free and abortions being free. It’s basically woman’s lib, but freedom from responsibility seems to be ‘liberty’ and taking up responsibility, accepting the results of your actions is ‘slavery’.
The freedom to choose is only freedom if you choose to abort, otherwise it’s increased stigmatism. It’s freedom for men – they get an excuse as the onus is off them – it’s the woman’s fault for not being on the Pill and then not aborting the baby.
If you really want to save money what about abolishing Trident and any replacement? If CND’s figures are valid this could save Â£76bn (if memory serves) – might help dent the national debt which a Tory spokesperson (name forgotten) claims is Â£170bn…
in friendship, Blair
I think you’ll find the national debt is climbing to four times that number already and rapidly increasing.
Would be interested in your thoughts on my proposals though.
re the national debt, I wouldn’t be surprised… the figures are beyond what I can get much grasp on anyway.
Given I’m gay I’m fairly tentative about discussing abortion – I realise it doesn’t bar me from having an opinion but on the other hand, it could be all to easy to fire off thoughts about an emotive subject which is unlikely to have much personal impact on me. With that in mind I don’t think I agree that “the entitlement to free abortions” should be removed “unless the life of the mother is in physical danger”. But I think there could be a case for looking at lowering the legal time limit on terminations. I probably do agree with your comment about couples who “choose to terminate a pregnancy because of issues with the child which are not life-threatening” however.
I think there could be more problems with your para 2 – for instance some women don’t take the pill for family planning reasons but to prevent periods due to pain etc, so we’re not necessarily paying “for someone elseâ€™s family planning”… though you did hint at this to be fair. Also unsure what you mean when you say “we donâ€™t exempt others from prescription charges unless they have a specific medical exemption because of a potentially terminal condition”. Do you mean other women, or other people in general? People aren’t only exempted because of a potentially terminal condition after all, but I’d assumed you knew that, hence my puzzlement.
I agree that we should be encouraged to be responsible for our sex lives but women seem to have to bear most of the cost in your suggestions – though it’s not easy to think of alternatives (and I’m lazy). Extra tax on condoms anyone? :)
in friendship, Blair
I strongly suspect that CND’s figures are not valid, or at the very least a little misleading. Even if it’s correct (and I would be interested to know the source), that Â£76bn price tag for Trident II is *over its entire projected lifetime* – i.e. several decades.
Also, I can’t help but feel that you are avoiding the question – should the NHS continue to fund abortion on such a large scale? (around 90% of abortions in this country are publicly funded one way or another, and bear in mind that the 200,000 per annum figure excludes Scotland).
this is from the Guardian, 21 Sept 06:
“The true cost of replacing and operating the Trident nuclear missile system would be at least Â£76bn, according to estimates revealed today. Based on official figures, they take into account the initial cost of acquiring new Trident missiles and replacing Britain’s existing nuclear submarines, and the annual running costs of maintaining the system and nuclear warheads over its 30-year life.
The figure is based on calculations made by the Liberal Democrats from parliamentary answers and is backed up by independent Commons researchers”.
And a later paragraph:
“The Â£76bn figure is based on the value the government has put on the cost of the existing Trident system – Â£14.9bn – plus the percentage of the Â£30bn defence budget now devoted to Trident for 30 years”.
I realise this is 3 years ago – a report in yesterday’s Grauniad says that Greenpeace now estimates that over 30 years the cost could amount to Â£97bn… presumably at today’s prices, though it doesn’t say. Make of all that what you will…
You’re right to a degree that I’m avoiding the question. I don’t really want to be part of an argument about abortion but will put some tentative thoughts above, replying to Peter’s post.
in friendship, Blair
I do actually agree, Blair, that the question of how the law should treat abortion is a complex one (sorry if I came across as very combative, I tend to post at haste and repent at leisure!).
My thinking is shaped by several competing facts, which helps to explain my own lack of certainty:
– Abortion is morally wrong, though often an understandable response to a crisis pregnancy
– Banning abortion will not mean that women stop having abortions, although it would probably reduce the number to some extent.
– Many elements of our culture encourage a high abortion rate, and while those remain in place the demand for abortion will not drop off significantly.
– In the UK at least, easily available contraception does not have any statistically significant effect on abortion rates
– Motherhood and parenthood in general are much undervalued in modern Britain
One other thing I am interested in is those Christians who argue that abortion is acceptable. Now I understand how a Christian can hold the position that “abortion is wrong, but should not be completely illegal” (I reluctantly hold a version of that position myself).
What I don’t understand is how a Christian can hold the position that abortion is actually morally permissible.
Completely agree on making people more responsible for the fertility consequences of their own choices in sexual behaviours.
In a similar vein: logically, at least 50% of the people who have STI’s acquired them by irresponsible sexual behaviour too (probably much nearer 100% did). How much is that costing the tax payer? Why should the government continue to take money from responsible people to pay for treating the consequences of other people’s irresponsibility?
On the money-related-to-sexual-issues track : how about a tax on brothels and strip clubs? That’d raise more money than either of the two items in your initial post. Taking it a stage further, levy a tax on pornography in the same way that cigarettes and alcohol are taxed.
On a separate note – Â£76bn on Trident is Â£76bn that will largely go straight back into the British economy. For all that we may have moral and ethical problems with the mixing of the words ‘nuclear’ and ‘defence’ or even just as separate words, both represent the most efficient means of directing tax-payers money straight back into the economy. The number of jobs hanging on Trident is in tens of thousands (technology r&d, manufacturing, supply chain, maintenance and operational management, etc) and we’ve got to think constructively about how these displaced workers would be re-employed if Trident didn’t go ahead and the cost (in billions of Â£’s) of that unemployment issue.
Please don’t attack what I’ve just said about Trident on moral and ethical issues re nuclear and defence. Those points are well rehearsed.
interesting thoughts… are you suggesting some kind of regulation / control of prostitution, to make taxing brothels possible?
Re Trident, not sure how you’d confirm what proportion of the money spent on it would be spent here, though I suspect you’re right on that point, and also that “weâ€™ve got to think constructively about how these displaced workers would be re-employed if Trident didnâ€™t go ahead”. I don’t have a good answer to that admittedly – and it would be a serious problem. But it does prompt another question though, which is, is keeping people employed a sufficient reason to outweigh the moral objections to Trident? OK, that’s a loaded way to put it, but still…
in friendship, Blair
To be honest, I wasn’t really putting forward a serious suggestion re prostitutes and brothels. Taxing pornography, maybe, but with the bulk of it being online nowadays, it’d be nigh on impossible to tax as publishers would simply move to tax havens from which they could still publish globally online.
Re Trident – I am a headhunter and previously worked extensively in the defence sector. Defence spending is very blatantly rigged so as to provide opportunity for British firms to prosper. Just look at BAE’s successes! There are so many clauses and agreements involved in winning defence bids that regardless of the home country of a defence company (General Dynamics-US, Thales-France, Finnmeccanica-Italy, etc) the bulk of the value of a contract ends up in the British economy when it is awarded by the British government. In fact, defence systems design and manufacture is industry that Britain still has a world lead in. The workers (prime contractor or supply-chain linked) spend their money here in Britain and the value of the actual contract is multiplied many times over as the cash filters down through.
Re the moral issues – as with so many things in life, I’d love to be able to take an idealist position, but the world is fallen, humanity is fallen and scripture seems clear that until Jesus returns and we have a new earth under His kingly rule, not a lot is going to change. That leaves us with the awful problem of working out the extent to which we are prepared to engage with this fallen world and its people?
Doesn’t that bring us right back to Peter’s underlying complaint about the wrongness of abortion?