Letter: Paying for the Pill

Letter: Paying for the Pill

Sir: It would be an astonishing irony indeed if free contraception, which has survived 18 years of Conservative government, were now to fall victim to a New Labour government with more than one hundred women MPs ("Prescription charge plan for Pill", 31 December).

Not only an irony but also innumerate nonsense if the intention, as stated, is to save public money. Someone should whisper in Tony Blair's ear that the alternative to spending some pounds 40 a year on contraception will be, in many cases, to spend around pounds 350 once or twice a year on NHS abortion, according to figures given in the House of Commons by Tessa Jowell on 12 November; or pounds 1,398 on childbirth in the NHS, as reported by Paul Boateng in the House on 30 October. These figures take account only of average immediate NHS costs, and not of social support in the future in helping parents to cope with unwanted children. These costs are probably incalculable.

MADELEINE SIMMS

London NW11

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