My Two Cents on the Birth Control Debate


I know, I know, I haven’t been posting much lately, and for that I’m sorry.  I seem to go through slumps with my writing, and I’ve definitely been in one lately.  I think I’m going to fancifully call it an “intellectually lazy” period because that sounds better than saying I’ve just been plain lazy.  I’ve been equally lackadaisical about following the bruja on birth control that has been swirling around the US as of late.  I’m sure it’s just as (intellectually) lazy to admit this, since I have no solid evidence to support this other than Facebook observations, but truthfully, it seems like a bunch of progressives getting miffed because a religiously affiliated university doesn’t see fit to provide students with birth control.  Maybe that’s why I didn’t blink: it’s a Catholic institution.  Didn’t everyone already know that, generally speaking, the traditional Catholic stance has been against birth control?

Of course, then it seems like the religious right proclaiming that nobody should be on birth control, since they don’t believe in it.  And if it’s morally wrong, then nobody should have the right to do it.  I don’t know if that’s exactly what they’re driving at, but it sounds like the sort of knee-jerk statement that would come out of the mouth of someone like, for example, Rick Santorum.  Being as how neither side makes any sense, I’m going to assign both of them a dunce cap and tell them to go sit in the corner.  Much like my student whom I’ve dubbed “the scarecrow” – brains made of straw and a face to match – they probably will neither sit down nor shut up.

Both sides are wrong for a similar reason: they are attempting to force their beliefs on those who don’t share them.  In the case of the left, they are attempting to coerce a group or groups of people to financially support something with which, for whatever reason, they do not agree.  In the case of the right, they are attempting to deny a group or groups of people something that they desire from the marketplace.  Neither has any real legitimate claim to coerce another group, regardless of all the well-intentioned arguments and ideas behind it.

Let’s start with the progressives.  From what I’ve gleaned, they support insurance companies and businesses forcibly providing birth control for medical reasons, such as cystic ovaries.  They have also argued, essentially, that society benefits from the effects of more women being on birth control.  One friend of mine also argued that providing birth control, rather than not providing it, ends up costing the insurance providers and businesses in question less over time.

There are very few, if any, insurance companies that will refuse birth control if it is necessary to save one’s life or prevent more expensive procedures further on down the line.  I find this to be a rather weak argument, so I’m going to leave it where it is.

The argument that “society owes it to itself” is a huge fallacy that was exposed by the late, great Murray Rothbard.  Simply stated, society doesn’t exist.  I know that sounds like a claim from outer space, but let’s look at the facts.  Society is frequently treated as though it is some entity that actually exists, and it doesn’t.  Rothbard, in his brilliant work For a New Liberty: The Libertarian Manifesto, provides us with the example of a band of ten robbers.  Those ten robbers show up to a home, break in, and take whatever they please.  They are caught and, when brought to court, make the argument that they are a “society,” and they were robbing other people because it was in their best interests to do so.  Naturally, this idea would not hold up in any respectable court.  However, when the number multiplies and suddenly we are speaking of a large number of people seeking to rob another large (or small) number of people, the argument suddenly becomes cloudy and more difficult to perceive.  Interestingly, this argument about “society” can also be used to take blame away from a person or persons who most properly deserve it, thus removing the need for accountability.

I view the argument that “society” owes it to itself to be a completely erroneous and frankly illogical argument.  In order for a “society” to truly exist, it must be homogenous with identical beliefs, hopes, and standards.  Obviously, this “society” or utopia, if you will, has never and will never exist.  Even if everyone else were in favor of doing something, if one person doesn’t consent, then that person has a right not to be coerced.  Put differently, it is not moral or ethical to force me or anyone else to pay for something that you want, if I do not wish to provide it of my own free will.  This applies to taxes just as easily as birth control and a host of other things.

The savings argument is an interesting one, and I have not seen any articles or statistics on it, though I will freely state that statistics can be skewed to go the way the person reporting wants them to go, in many cases.  One might ask why, if there are such great savings to be had, businesses and insurance companies are not already taking advantage of these great savings.  Honestly, why?  The only reason I could think would be if there were some sort of government subsidy that provided more money and thus negated those potential savings.  Knowing how heavily government is involved in the medical and insurance industries, this would not be unexpected, though I have no evidence to back it up; it is merely a hazarded guess.

Ultimately, birth control specifically and reproductive rights generally are a deeply personal issue for most, if not all, women.  Women should have the right to choose, of course.  Nobody should be asked to cosign another individual’s beliefs, whatever they may be.  However, being forced directly or indirectly to subsidize those choices is demanding that acquiescence.  The only way to forever settle this issue is to forget this notion about what is good for society and let people take care of themselves with their own money.  Leave the government out of it.  Leave the church out of it.  I have the right to decide for myself, and so does everyone else out there.  Don’t let anyone, left or right, tell you otherwise.

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About The Lady Libertarian
I am American, currently expatriated but hopeful about getting back home one of these days. Besides reading and writing about politics, I enjoy camping, sailing, canoeing, making pie, and traveling. I hope you'll enjoy this blog and find it informative and accessible.

3 Responses to My Two Cents on the Birth Control Debate

  1. Tina Voigt says:

    Here ya go: http://economix.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/03/05/pregnancy-prevention-and-the-taxpayer/?src=rechp

    Evidence for the economic benefits of insurance coverage for birth control.
    As for the economic benefits, as Americans, you’re paying for it either way. You can have your taxes hiked to increase the TANF and other welfare benefits to pay for families who didn’t know/couldn’t get access to affordable birth control, or you can pay less into allowing people access to affordable birth control. Prevention is ALWAYS cheaper than clean up. And the tax system is not about to be eliminated in America, so the choice is yours.

    By the by, if I pay into my health insurance plan, shouldn’t I get a say in what I would like to receive for it? Do I need to have my Doctor write on the prescription that I need my BCPs for PMS regulation, cancer prevention, etc and will my Doc need to clarify it’s not for sexytimes? Doesn’t that violate my right to patient-doctor confidentiality, when the pharmacist (and employer, in Texas) goes to look at my prescription and sees why the doctor provided it? That sounds like big government over-regulation. If I pay into the system, I want a say in what I get out of it.

  2. Again, if there were really savings being had in the private sector, the companies would do it. The government has already mandated that all insurance companies cover BC, and it does increase the cost of insurance, but it spreads the cost around to everyone – even those who choose not to use it.

    Obviously I think people should have some say in their health care. I just think there should be options available to those who don’t want to subsidize others’ need/desire for BC when the persons in question are not, for whatever reason, in support of it. As of this date, Americans don’t have that option. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has required that all insurance companies provide plans that cover birth control for women. This works fine for those who are in support of BC for everyone. The road doesn’t run in both directions.

    At the end of the day, this mandate is still forcing some people to pay money for the care of others when they may not wish to do so. You can’t get around this fact of forcing people to do something that they don’t want to do, in this case. Some people think this is acceptable. I, for one, do not believe it is.

    • Tina Voigt says:

      The very nature of health insurance is for me to buy into a system so that I can get the care I need when I need it for a reasonable price. Buying into the system means, yes, I am also helping pay for everyone else’s health insurance/health care. If you have health insurance through your employer, you can choose to opt out. If you want your health to be taken care of, then you also have to support the health of everyone else. I’m more upset that my health insurance premiums increase each year because people choose to smoke, not take care of the heart disease/obesity, go tanning/get skin cancer, etc, etc. I don’t want to foot the bill for people choosing to be in poor health (I support supporting people who have genetic predispositions to such conditions as cancer (I’ll gladly support people who are taking steps to prevent poor health (like taking BCPs to lower their risk of cancer, which has a side effect of preventing pregnancy) ). I don’t want to do that, but I’m not whining to the government to change that policy – because I understand people have different needs and will use their health insurance for different things. The thing about birth control is that it’s clearly about trying to morally control all of us heathens who like to have premarital sex (or marital sex in which it’s not time for a baby) without getting preggers.

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