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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