Writing on the wall

Submitted by Anon on 18 August, 2003 - 6:55

The wealthy’s way of giving birth —

courtesy of the NHS

Described by NHS bosses as, “an income generating” idea, the Jentle midwifery scheme — where women are guaranteed one-to-one regular care … for the price of £4,000 — is a step towards a two tier NHS pre-natal service.

Supporters of the scheme — which runs out of Queen Charlotte and Chelsea hospital in London — say it saves the NHS money because having the benefit of an attentive and trusted midwife has been shown to cut the number of caesarian deliveries. Which shows the crazy logic the NHS top brass believe in.

Put in the funds to train more midwives (the UK has a shortfall of 10,000)? No!

Ensure that every woman gets the same few midwives to see her through her pregnancy (something that the community midwife scheme is supposed to provide)? No!

Let the well-off take away scarce NHS resources and have more choice over the delivery of their baby? Why not?

The rest of us can wait weeks for appointments, be pushed from pillar to post through a chaotic system full of over-worked staff, get so stressed out our babies get delivered too early and hobble around with ceasarian scars for weeks afterwards. Of course we can... us proles are tough you know.

Teenage kicks

You’re born, you grow up, your choices in life may be few and when things go wrong your parents may not be much help. Most parents, of course, do their best. But some, unfortunately can be downright abusive.

And those parents are the people Ann Saxon wanted young women under sixteen seeking an abortion to face the hostility of. Thankfully, she did not succeed in her recent court case to require medical practioners to tell parents when their child seeks an abortion.

Saxon, unlike Victoria Gillick, who first pursued this case in the 80s, is not a card-carrying member of the Moral Majority. Nonetheless she appears to have very little knowledge of the world.

Some parents are rotten. Young pregnant women do get beaten up, kicked out of their home and ostracized by their families. They may also be the victims of rape.

Children and young people need publicly funded support of all kinds. The real crime here is not the availability of abortion services (that is, an opportunity for a young women to make the right choice for her life). It is that these and other services are far too scarce and difficult to access.

out of the mouths of babes... to the baIliff

So the government intends to call time on the Child Support Agency. Twelve years after some us predicted it would be unworkable and unkind. That it would pit divorcing couples against each other, exacerbating their tendency to use their children as pawns, penalise single parents on benefit and poor working parents who have little money and many responsibilities. Nobody benefited, least of all children.

But don’t breath a sigh of relief just yet. The government plans to merge the functions of the CSA into their new Revenue and Customs Agency — that is, the Ministry in Charge of Everything. The workers in that agency – no doubt soon to be sacked and replaced by fewer, ever more badly paid workers, in a yet to revealed offshore location — will not be responsible for collecting unpaid child support. That will be the responsibility of private debt collectors who will keep a cut of the takings. Less money for children, more money for the bailiff. Nice.

Daddy i
hardly knew you

Children don’t necessarily care if their parents are a bit morally reprehensible… late with the child support, that sort of thing. When parents divorce children usually — except in cases of abuse and violence — want regular contact with both their parents.

Children, it appears, have better idea of what is good for them then adults. Because unfortunately the best interests of children often escape divorcing parents who confuse a bitterness towards and lack of respect for their ex with that person’s fitness to be a parent.

Often, as the law stands, in the battle over the kids, men who want to be good parents lose out — and they lose all contact with their children.

This was why Fathers 4 Justice was set up. Now F4J has folded, after much internal wrangling. The final factor in its demise was the revelation that some members were planning (over a few pints) to kidnap Tony’s Blair’s youngest son.

Okay it was a bit, or even a lot of a joke, and its philosophy was highly dubious — men are “oppressed” etc — but the basic premise that custody law should be put on a different basis was right.

The government however has consistently failed to do that. The reason, it seems, is cost.

The plan was to introduce legislation to ensure parents co-operated over parenting their children post-divorce and that the working assumption (except in cases of proven abuse) was that children would get generous time with both parents.

Perhaps because of charges over being “nanny state” in this matter, but more because of the cost of making such a scheme work, the initiative has become “voluntary”. With up to 40% of fathers losing contact with the children after divorce the government should be forced to think again.

Add new comment

This website uses cookies, you can find out more and set your preferences here.
By continuing to use this website, you agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms & Conditions.