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Why Should Anyone Have to Pay for Someone Else’s Birth Control?

Mandates stemming from the Affordable Care Act (ACA) requiring all employers to offer ‘free’ birth control services for their employees go into effect this month.  Most of the media attention about it has centered on protests against the rules which would force religious organizations to violate church teaching against most forms of contraception. But, it’s not just religious rights that are being violated here.  It’s the rights of all who are being forced to pay for something someone else wants and can easily get themselves.

Congress passed no law that specifically calls for employers to provide ‘free’ birth control. It did pass the Affordable Care Act  which gave the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) wide authority to decide how to interpret the broad concepts in the law, establish the rules and punish violators.   And so it was HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius who determined that birth control falls under the category of  “preventive health services,” along with inoculations and physical check-ups as if conception was an ailment.

As the proprietor of numerous hospitals, clinics, schools, orphanages and other institutions, the Catholic Church is among all the other employers in the U.S that must adhere to the edict.  However, as is well known, the use of birth control is against church teachings.  Regardless, no waivers were given to employers for religious reasons.   According to the law, any employer who fails to submit will be fined $100 a day for each employee.  This adds up to $3.65 million a year for an organization with 100 employees. It’s obey the law or go out business.

People who’ve joined Catholic authorities in condemning the ruling are being accused of denying women their rights and limiting women’s access to birth control.  This is nonsense!  Birth control is easily accessible.  It’s in public bathroom vending machines and on drug store counters.  While name brand contraceptive drugs cost $15 – $50 a month, Wallmart and Target sell generics for as little as $9.00…the cost of 2 venti frappuccinos at Starbucks.

Women who cannot afford even this can be readily taken care of through Medicaid and community health organizations.   In addition, there are 4,500 Title-X funded clinics  throughout the country that provide free or subsidized birth control services.  If that weren’t enough, Planned Parenthood, founded on the principle of  making birth control accessible to all women, by their own account, helped women prevent 584,000 pregnancies in 2010 alone.  The only ones left without access to free or subsidized birth control are the women who can afford to buy it themselves.  Why then should employers be forced to provide birth control services to women who can provide for themselves?

Actually, the real  question is not whether the religious organizations should provide free birth control services; it’s why any employer should provide free birth control services.   The issue is that birth control services are not free and the cost of providing it to large numbers of women adds up and becomes yet another government mandated benefit that drives up the cost of health insurance.  And it’s not just the employers; we’re all paying for it in higher premiums and lower salaries.  Why should men, older people, or people who want to have children, not to mention people who feel birth control, sterilization, and abortion inducing drugs are wrong, pay for birth control services for young women

If birth control services are considered necessary for some people’s health, so are green vegetables, certain pets, hardwood floors, electric tooth brushes, air purifiers, foam mattresses, pedometers, hepa vacuum cleaners and much more.  What stops HHS from forcing us to pay for others to have these as well?  Is there a  limit to what we’ll be forced to provide as long as it’s good for somebody?

As in other situations where the federal government micro-manages our lives in order to further someone else’s idea of what’s good for us, unintended consequences emerge.  You can bet, for one, that the cost of birth control services will go up.  There’s no incentive for the people that furnish birth control to bring the cost down if providing birth control services are mandated.  In fact, they’re incentivized to increase the price since the actual user has no reason to make choices based on cost.

HHS Secretary, Kathleen Sebelius suggested that the reduced number of pregnancies resulting from this mandate compensates for the cost of contraception.  What’s  so ironic about her statement is that the U.S. birth rate has now fallen below replacement levels.  This means that, despite the large numbers of immigrants, not enough babies are born in this country to make up the numbers of people dying.  Fewer people will be paying into Medicare and Social Security funds.  With 10,000 baby boomers retiring each day, our true long-term un-funded liabilities now total $222 trillion!  Bottom line:  fewer babies born in our country leads to irretrievable bankruptcy, not savings.

There’s no reason for the government to force employers or anyone else to pay for someone else’s birth control.  Those who want it can easily get it themselves or through one of the many organizations that offer these services free.  Meanwhile, the rest of us who must pay,  have lost the Constitutional right to our own property.  Sadly, this is just the beginning.  The Affordable Care Act gives carte blanch to the HHS Secretary to grant new ‘rights’ to some at the expense of others, opening her door to special interest groups with plans to further their causes and violate your rights



  1. wtf_dude says:

    . . . “But, it’s not just religious rights that are being violated here.”

    This is a fundamental misunderstanding of US law. The law gives religious people the right to believe whatever they want, but not to act however they want. So a religious organization operating in the USA can believe that birth control is wrong, but it cannot deny birth control to people. Similarly, religious organizations aren’t allowed to flout sexual harassment laws, despite many religions implicitly or explicitly having anti-woman stances. Taken to an extreme, they aren’t allowed to shoot people either, just because their religion allows them to. They are free to believe in shooting people though. Religious employers, like any other, benefit from the services provided by the state and its people and generally cannot demand special treatment.

    This highlights a fundamental problem with religion: it insists on forcing itself upon others. The decision of a religious employer to deny a non-religious employee birth control is an explicit attempt to force their religious beliefs onto others. And claim it’s their right to do so! The law protects religious beliefs, but these organizations are asking the law to cooperate in forcing their religion on others (!).

    Even the conservative courts understand this and will uphold this aspect of the Affordable Care Act. I agree that the bigger question of whether the government should be able to force employers to pay for birth control is questionable.

  2. wtf_dude says:

    While I’m not sure that birth control should in fact be provided by the government, it has nevertheless been determined that the country is better off if some things are provided by the government. Examples include roads, education, defense, air wave management, aviation administration, safety standards, police, FDIC, Fed, FBI, prison, inoculations. But we also don’t think it’s good if the government provides vegetables, pedometers, etc. I think the reason somebody might argue that providing free birth control is good is that it’s better for society and not just the person involved. That’s the reason why the government provides roads, education, defense, etc. Studies have shown that birth control, especially among certain groups of people, was perhaps the biggest cause of the drop in violent crime in the last twenty years. I don’t personally know enough to make this judgment; I’m just saying that there may be some justifiable argument.

  3. Carole S. says:

    Birth control is already being provided by the government to women who can’t afford it through Medicaid, Title – X funded clinics, and community and state health clinics. Planned Parenthood, which is heavily supported by government funds, offers birth control to everyone. The issue is why the government is forcing private employers to provide birth control
    for women who can afford it themselves. Everyone who has health insurance ends up paying for it.

    Regarding your thoughts about birth control being beneficial for society: European leaders, on the other hand, are faced with birthrates so low that pensions and health benefits are already severely impacted. The U.S. birth rate as mentioned in the blog, has itself fallen below replacement levels. So birth control is not always good for society.

  4. Carole S. says:

    but it (religious organization) cannot deny birth control to people The Church is not stopping people from using birth control. It is not forcing people to believe as they do. Furthermore, people are not being forced to work for an organization that refuses to give them birth control services.

  5. wtf_dude says:

    Birth control is bad for society because old people need babies to pay for their pensions? Well I’ll give you creativity points for that.

    Despite what you say about the church, that’s not how the law works. And if you change “religious belief” to “business owner’s interests” you can see why the law is right. It’s part of what makes this country better than others. There’s a separation of religion from government in this country and churches don’t get special privileges, especially privileges that would give them an unfair cost advantage.

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