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Should Government Force Insurers to Provide Birth Control?

by Carol Hill, published


The opinion forum in the April 22 online edition of the Denver Post posed the question, "Should health-care insurers be forced to pay for contraception?"

The operative word here is forced, making the answer to this question an unequivocal "No". Protecting the legitimate rights of citizens is the only lawful use of force under our system of government, and there is no such thing as a "right" to have sex without consequences anymore than there is a right to excessive eating without consequences, sunbathing without consequences, drinking alcohol without consequences, etc.

I think I can safely say that in the bygone days of my youth, no one believed they had a "right" to demand that society provide them with the means to indulge--without consequences--every desire they felt, carnal or otherwise. When the machine in the men's room was empty, our birth control became self-control if we didn't want to risk the obvious consequences.

If health-care insurers are forced to pay for contraception, then shouldn't they be forced to pay for spa treatments and vacations? It's well-known that vacations and massages are not only pleasurable, but reduce stress, and since stress is a causal factor in so many medical problems, wouldn't it be as beneficial to my insurance company's bottom line to keep me stress free as it is to keep me pregnancy-free? Actually, it would probably be much more beneficial since stress-related conditions generally require more than nine months of care.

How about requiring insurance companies to pay for diet pills or liposuction? After all, I have as much right to eat as I do to have sex, and if I don't have to bear  (literally) the consequences of my sexual activity, why should I have to bear the consequences of my eating activity? We've been hearing for years that obesity is a leading cause of any number of health issues--not to mention emotional distress caused by being the object of scorn and ridicule--so, surely it's as financially beneficial to the insurance company to prevent obesity as it is to prevent pregnancy.

How about requiring insurance companies to pay for sunscreen lotion to prevent ski cancer? Playing outdoors is fun, and since it is my body I have a right to use it to ski, hike, bicycle, swim, or lounge on a beach. Further, I have every right to choose to earn my living outdoors as a lifeguard, farmer, construction worker, landscaper, etc. Again, if I don't have to bear the consequences of my lawful sexual activity, why should I have to bear the consequences of my recreational activity, or my chosen occupation?

In fact, (hold on, here we get to the adolescent whining part), if I have to assume responsibility for the consequences, doesn't that just negate the "right" I supposedly have to do these things in the first place? What good does it do me to say I have a "right" to have sex, but then let me get pregnant or a disease, or that I have a "right" to choose what I want to eat, but then let me get fat, or that I have a "right" of free speech, but then let people get mad at me if they don't like what I said.

People can rationalize this fabricated "issue" all they want, but the fact is that there is no medical or legal justification for requiring insurance companies, or taxpayers, to provide reproductive people with birth control. Pregnancy is not some highly contagious disease threatening our communities.

If someone doesn't want to get pregnant they don't have to. There are several options, the two easiest and surest being (a) abstinence, and (b) condoms. In fact, if we're relying on the argument that insurance companies should provide contraception because preventing pregnancy reduces medical costs, then condoms are the only form of contraception that should even be considered, since they not only prevent pregnancy, but also STDs.

If insurance companies ever decide that providing free contraception--or free diet pills, sunscreen, or even vacations--will improve their bottom line, either by reducing medical costs or attracting more customers, we won't need a law to force them to do so--we wouldn't be able to stop them.

As a 63 year-old feminist, my advice to my (apparently many) delusional young sisters across America is to grow-up and wise-up. Sexual liberation was about liberating us to make our own decisions about sex, not liberating us from the consequences of those decisions. There is no war on women, just the on-going war on self-reliance, independence, and personal responsibility that's claiming the freedom of just as many men as women.

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