Claire Trevett

Claire Trevett is the New Zealand Herald’s deputy political editor.

Govt: Abusers could have children taken away at birth

National Party MP Paula Bennett. Photo / Janna Dixon
National Party MP Paula Bennett. Photo / Janna Dixon

The Government is considering ways to prevent child abusers from having further children or to take children away from them at birth.

Social Development minister Paula Bennett told Radio NZ that over the past year, 148 newborn babies were taken away from their parents because of fears for their safety.

She said the Cabinet was considering a range of options to deal with the issue of known child abusers or killers having further children - including allowing the Court to direct someone convicted of serious child abuse or neglect or murder not to have more children.

She said it would not be forced sterilisation, but if any parent under such an order did have a child it would be taken from them at birth.

She said while people could be banned from having a dog if they were found guilty of animal abuse, currently there was nothing to prevent child abusers having further children and keeping them.

Auckland Action Against Poverty spokeswoman Sue Bradford said it was another step down the slippery slope to state-control of reproductive choices, given there was already the ability to step in if a child was in danger.

"While the protection of children should always be paramount, our group recognises that the courts and CYFS already have the right to step in and remove babies and children if they are in danger. There is no need to embark on this incredibly dangerous path towards complete government control of some women's reproductive rights."

She said such a measure came on top of the offer of free long-term contraception for women on the benefit.

- NZ Herald

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