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Birth control should be left to the free market

Staff Columnist

Published: Thursday, December 5, 2013

Updated: Thursday, December 5, 2013 22:12

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is heading to the Supreme Court for the second, but probably not the last, time. That battle is now raging over the controversial contraception mandate that requires employer sponsored insurance to cover the birth control pill. Some employers believe that this mandate infringes on religious liberty by forcing them to pay for something deemed immoral, and that is certainly an argument I am sympathetic to. However, I oppose this mandate for a variety of reasons. Most importantly, because it defies the definition of the word insurance, and represents a back door tax and spend policy.

I want to start by saying I don’t have any objection to the birth control pill when used for pregnancy prevention or medical uses totally unrelated to reproduction. I prefer it to some of the alternatives, such as abortion or teen pregnancy. I would be the first to support increasing access to this safe and effective drug by making it available over the counter. First, because it has the potential to prevent less desirable outcomes as I outlined, but more importantly because I mind my own business. However, I don’t see why people with moral opposition, or even me for that matter should be forced to subsidize other peoples’ sex lives. This isn’t really about women. Men are going to benefit from this mandate too, seeing as most men don’t want to be paying child support prematurely. What this mandate does is redistribute small amounts of wealth from those who are not having sex to those who are, and that hardly seems fair. Furthermore, it only benefits those using the pill. It completely ignores condom use, and what good does not being pregnant do you when your boyfriend picked up an STD over vacation?
So now that I have established my lack of moral objection to birth control, I want to talk about what the word insurance means. It’s really a concept, but in practice it means to hedge against risk. More importantly, in the financial sense it means to offset one’s risk onto another entity. Normally, this means paying a premium to a company, and in return that company is contractually obligated to cover certain unexpected expenses. How does this apply to birth control? It doesn’t, and that’s the point. Birth control is a choice, sex should be a choice and being a women of childbearing age is not an unexpected event in one’s life. Imagine if someone wanted to insure their car against needing an oil change. Who in their right mind would provide the service, when we all know that cars need oil? Even if a company did offer insurance for oil change the premiums charged would be higher than the actual cost of getting an oil change. The same is true for birth control.

So if you can’t insure against a known variable than how does the Affordable Care Act do it? Well, this is one of my biggest problems with the contraception mandate. It takes a run of the mill tax and spend approach, and hides it inside of a community rated healthcare plan. The president and his supporters pretend as if this is a mandate of insurer or employer responsibility, but in reality the cost will be passed on to individuals. As a young male with absolutely no use for the birth control pill, I will eventually pay a higher premium, and as a result women will be able to receive birth control at a lower price. Worse, if we subtract the price of the pill from said woman’s health insurance premiums, she is certainly getting a better deal than I would. How is that any different from taxing me, and giving said women the money to buy birth control? I wouldn’t advocate for such a program, but if there is one thing I can’t stand more than a tax, it’s a hidden tax.

Finally, how ridiculous is it to create a government program for birth control when according to Time magazine, “A one-month generic supply from Costco costs $25.” Is this what feminism has come to? I’m sorry, but replacing that idea the women need a big strong man in their life, with the idea that they need a big strong government is hardly less insulting.


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