Election 2023: Labour fires back at National for making women pay contraception prescription fee if elected

  • 31/05/2023

The Labour Party has slammed the Opposition after National said it would slap prescription fees back on for contraception if elected.

The comments have been labelled "out of touch" and "unbelievable" by Labour MPs.

In its 2023 Budget, the Government scrapped prescription fees. From July, Kiwis who get a prescription from the doctor won't have to front a $5 co-payment at the pharmacy - as is currently the case for most medicines. It would cost the Government $619 million.

Not long after, National said it would reinstate the fee, arguing it would subsidise wealthy people. However, the party said it would look at carve-outs for Gold Card holders and low-income earners with Community Services cards.

National leader Christopher Luxon told Newshub on Wednesday he was not looking at a carve-out for those who need regular contraception prescriptions. 

"We don't want to see any change … We are making sure we can help with people who desperately need help with their prescription charges. We want a targeted approach."

He did not consider people needing regular contraception prescriptions filled as having "high medical needs". Luxon also said it was a "different issue" when asked whether it was fair people needing contraception had to pay prescription fees

Following Luxon's comments, the Labour Party came out swinging.

"Cost should not be a barrier to contraception. National is out of touch with reality for many women," Labour posted on its social media channels.

"How out of touch can you be! You can't trust National. Going to make women pay for contraception while giving tax cuts to those already better off," Labour MP Marja Lubeck tweeted.

Labour Minister Megan Woods had one word to sum up National's comments: "Unbelievable."

She followed her tweet with an image of The Handmaid's Tale, a show about a Christian fundamentalist theocratic regime in the former United States that arose as a response to a fertility crisis.

Even a Green Party MP jumped in on the attack.

"Well at least they're honest that they think women should be punished for having sex…. I'm surprised that they've gone so far as to include married women," MP Jan Logie posted on Facebook.

Family Planning has welcomed the move to scrap prescription fees, with its chief executive Jackie Edmond saying it would help young people's access to contraception.