Who pays for birth control?

Michael Barry
It seems to me this issue has become unnecessarily tangled.

Let's set aside the Catholics -- the real ones, that is.

Does a regular, non-religious employer (or college) have an obligation to provide "free" birth control?

My instinct would be to say no. On the principle that in any case, and without special circumstances, it's wrong to make A pay for B's lunch (and then pretend that that lunch is "free").

If you're willing to think hard about this, "free" birth control only means that people who don't use birth control (whatever their sex) will pay for those who do.

To put this starkly -- let's make person B -- the woman whose birth control ($1,000 a year?) is being paid for -- a super-rich investment banker (they do exist, you know). And let's make person A -- the person who is paying for that birth control -- another woman, who doesn't use birth control, who is a poor, inner city teacher.

Is that fair? Are there special circumstances that would justify such a rule? Maybe. It seems to me what the "free" birth control advocates are saying is -- look, women are, in real life, expected to bear the burden of avoiding pregnancy. However much some may preach abstinence, a vast majority of American men and women expect women to do what ever is necessary to control pregnancy. And if they have to, it's unfair for them to bear the entire cost of doing so.

The counter to that (and Rush actually raised this) is -- well then, why don't we make the men who are having sex with these women pay? And the counter to that is it's impractical. Maybe -- but it's also awkward and embarrassing and rather than making women have that conversation with their partners it's easier to just socialize this problem and make "Society" pay. "Society" of course is a just a made up word. What they mean is taxpayers or insurance company premium payers will pay for sexually active men and women to have birth control.

I think reasonable people might differ over that. But when you look right at it -- it just doesn't seem fair. However problematic, it does seem that the sexually active (this is an issue only for the sexually active) really ought to pay for their own birth control.

I would also note that the unseen cost of this approach -- of making "Society" pay for women's birth control -- is to subsidize the birth control business (I'm sure the birth control pill manufacturers love that there's a law that "Society" has to pay for their product), pushing up medical costs that are all ready way too high.

My proposal: require that no unmarried man can be sexually active without paying a tax designed to cover half of women's birth control expenses.  

It seems to me this issue has become unnecessarily tangled.

Let's set aside the Catholics -- the real ones, that is.

Does a regular, non-religious employer (or college) have an obligation to provide "free" birth control?

My instinct would be to say no. On the principle that in any case, and without special circumstances, it's wrong to make A pay for B's lunch (and then pretend that that lunch is "free").

If you're willing to think hard about this, "free" birth control only means that people who don't use birth control (whatever their sex) will pay for those who do.

To put this starkly -- let's make person B -- the woman whose birth control ($1,000 a year?) is being paid for -- a super-rich investment banker (they do exist, you know). And let's make person A -- the person who is paying for that birth control -- another woman, who doesn't use birth control, who is a poor, inner city teacher.

Is that fair? Are there special circumstances that would justify such a rule? Maybe. It seems to me what the "free" birth control advocates are saying is -- look, women are, in real life, expected to bear the burden of avoiding pregnancy. However much some may preach abstinence, a vast majority of American men and women expect women to do what ever is necessary to control pregnancy. And if they have to, it's unfair for them to bear the entire cost of doing so.

The counter to that (and Rush actually raised this) is -- well then, why don't we make the men who are having sex with these women pay? And the counter to that is it's impractical. Maybe -- but it's also awkward and embarrassing and rather than making women have that conversation with their partners it's easier to just socialize this problem and make "Society" pay. "Society" of course is a just a made up word. What they mean is taxpayers or insurance company premium payers will pay for sexually active men and women to have birth control.

I think reasonable people might differ over that. But when you look right at it -- it just doesn't seem fair. However problematic, it does seem that the sexually active (this is an issue only for the sexually active) really ought to pay for their own birth control.

I would also note that the unseen cost of this approach -- of making "Society" pay for women's birth control -- is to subsidize the birth control business (I'm sure the birth control pill manufacturers love that there's a law that "Society" has to pay for their product), pushing up medical costs that are all ready way too high.

My proposal: require that no unmarried man can be sexually active without paying a tax designed to cover half of women's birth control expenses.