Birth control is a hot topic in the US right now. The Affordable Care Act’s birth control mandate requires new or renewed health insurance plans to provide birth control at no cost to the policyholder – no copay, no deductible, no out-of-pocket costs at all. Birth control is expensive; Planned Parenthood estimates its cost to be $15-$50 each month. For people who have a hard enough time paying for health insurance, the added cost of copays each month can be a huge burden and may not even seem worth it. But by making it free, millions of people who previously could not afford it are now able to take birth control.
The mandate has been hotly contested – many people claim it violates their religious freedom, while others want to earmark their tax dollars to go to something they don’t morally oppose (which is a whole other article in itself). Suffice to say, a lot of people want the mandate to be repealed, and Conservative politicians have chimed in to say they will do just that. These are the same politicians (and voters) that are anti-abortion, which leads me to wonder how they feel about the results of this study:
When more than 9,000 women ages 14 to 45 in the St. Louis area were given no-cost contraception for three years, abortion rates dropped from two-thirds to three-quarters lower than the national rate, according to a new report by Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis researchers.
From 2008 to 2010, annual abortion rates among participants in the Contraceptive Choice Project – dubbed CHOICE — ranged from 4.4 abortions per 1,000 women to 7.5 abortions per 1,000. That’s far less than the 19.6 abortions per 1,000 women nationwide reported in 2008, the latest year for which figures are available.
You mean to tell me that not getting pregnant leads to not having an abortion? Shocking.
Mitt Romney and company should be pleased to hear this news. The best way to reduce abortion rates is to reduce pregnancy rates. But still, I’m sure they will tout abstinence. Because sex is the devil’s act and is only to be used for reproduction. Even though abstinence-only education and policies do not work.
I’m going to be straightforward here: it is absurd to expect everyone who can’t afford birth control and also doesn’t want to get pregnant to simply abstain from having sex. Demanding that people resist their biological urges is paternalistic and overbearing. Conservatives want a small government that doesn’t interfere with their lives but by repealing the birth control mandate and outlawing abortion, they would be doing exactly what they claim they are fighting against.
They don’t want you to push your morals (or what they see as a lack of morals) on them, because they have freedom of religion. But what they are refusing to recognize is that we also have freedom from religion.
The Obama administration is not forcing anyone to use birth control. That is not what the mandate is about. They are simply making sure that everyone has access to it in case they want or need it. Birth control should not be available only to people who have enough money to afford it and it is classist and offensive to demand that poor people pay for it out-of-pocket when they need food on the table.
If a person can’t afford birth control, how are they going to afford an abortion? And if they can’t afford an abortion, how are they going to afford raising a child? Especially when Romney wants to make cuts to government assistance programs like welfare. You can’t deny them any help at all and expect them to be okay. How do we better our lives if every opportunity we have to do so is taken away? This every-man-for-himself attitude that’s taken over the country in the past 30-odd years is really, truly sickening.
We aren’t all born with a silver spoon in our mouths. It’s time to stop pretending like we are.
Written by Alisse Desrosiers
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