4 Mar 2010

ACT MP suggests sterilisation of abusive parents

10:39 am on 4 March 2010

ACT MP David Garrett has suggested offering abusive parents thousands of dollars in return for getting themselves sterilised.

He says this may be one way of preventing the birth of children who might otherwise be injured or killed through domestic violence.

Mr Garrett says one option would be to offer $5000 if the parent agreed to be sterilised.

He argues that some parents who abuse their children continue to have more, and that shouldn't be allowed.

"That must be costing a huge amount of money and if we can incentivise people who, quite plainly, shouldn't be having children to stop having them then ... that's something we should at least have a discussion about."

David Garrett says this is not ACT Party policy, but his own personal view.

The party is distancing itself from Mr Garrett's comments. ACT leader Rodney Hide says the MP is entitled to his views but does not represent the wider party on this issue.

Tau Huirama from Jigsaw, a national organisation that focuses on prevention and early intervention in child abuse, says the proposal is reminiscent of eugenics policies in Nazi Germany.

A former Children's Commissioner says the idea is absurd. Dr Ian Hassell says people who seriously abuse children don't acknowledge the wrong they have done, so he cannot see that they would take up the option of being sterilised.

The Labour Party says it's a ridiculous idea, and the money would be better spent on educating parents.

Early support

The chief executive of advocacy group Child Protection Studies, Anthea Simcock, says people who have grown up in abusive families are often concerned about their ability to be a parent and some may chose sterilisation.

However Ms Simcock said there would be problems if people felt the move was coercive, or a way of making money, and other measures - such as early support to parents - are worth considering.