March 1 2012
This is Part 2 of a blog series that sets the record straight on the HHS mandate requiring employers to cover birth control. To see Lies 1, 2, and 3, click here.
Lie #4: People who oppose the mandate oppose birth control!
This one is my favorite! As NOW president Terry O’Neill said, “we must get out the word that opponents of birth control coverage are opponents of birth control, period.” This is patently false!
Like a lot of women, I have no moral objections to birth control, but I see a government mandate requiring its coverage as problematic.
If you believed the religious exemption in the Blunt Amendment was too broad, consider that others see the exemption offered by the mandate (for churches only) as too narrow. We should be allowed to disagree on which employers should and shouldn’t offer this type of coverage. We should continue this debate in civil society without the government’s involvement.
Congress wouldn’t even be voting on allowing some employers to NOT offer birth control coverage if the White House hadn’t mandated it in the first place. This issue doesn’t belong in government’s hands. This is not a debate about the morality of birth control, but about whether or not the government should take a side on the morality of birth control. I don’t want the government taking sides against me, but I also don’t want the government siding with me, knowing that all it takes for a reversal is an election or two.
Lie #5: Without the mandate, employers will force their religious beliefs on others!
Some have expressed worry that repealing the HHS mandate would “make Christian Sharia Law the law of the land.” Wow! Strong words.
First of all, people who start and own businesses (employers) do so with their own resources. Or, they take on a lot of risk by taking out a loan. These people should be free to use their resources as they choose. This is less like “your boss in the bedroom,” and more like Uncle Sam going into your boss’s wallet and handing the money to you for birth control.
Your employer can't tell you whether or not you can use contraception. That's not her right. It's also not your right to tell her how to spend her company's money.
Practically ignored in this debate have been the economic side effects of this mandate. “Free” birth control coverage for every woman in the U.S. comes with a cost. The White House has said it will make insurers responsible for this cost. When insurers have to pay more for birth control, they will charge higher premiums for everyone to make up the cost. Higher premiums mean higher cost of employment for each person. A higher cost of employment means less employment.
Notably, if a business headed by a Catholic man wanted to avoid the mandate, the owner/manager could simply avoid hiring any women. Is that what we want?
As I said before, 90 percent of employers who offer health coverage cover birth control. Any religious employer who dissents is presumably currently not covering birth control, so the repeal or absence of the HHS mandate (which isn’t currently in effect) will not change this.
And the most laughable Lie #6: This is an attack on women’s rights!
As I wrote in Part 1, no one is attempting to reduce access to birth control or reduce birth control coverage.
Some people may be upset that “free” birth control is not more widely available in our country. They believe all women have a right to free birth control. This is important because this gets to the heart of the matter: an argument about the definition of “rights.” To believe that free birth control is a right, you must necessarily believe in taking something away from someone else. The pills aren’t free to produce, so someone must pay. Birth control is not a right. It is a good, and people can purchase it if they want.
Susan B. Anthony said, “There is not a woman born who desires to eat the bread of dependence.” No adult woman wants to depend on her parents, her husband, or her employer to tell her what drugs she can take or what kind of health insurance she must have. But it seems modern-day left-wing Feminists are awfully hungry for the bread of dependence if it is coming from Uncle Sam.
That is the really sad thing about this debate: People who claim to fight for women’s independence must continuously make women out to be weak, helpless victims.
Rights come with responsibilities. If we want the freedom to control our own contraception, we’ve got the responsibility to acquire it independently. As Beyonce sang in 2000, “Ladies, it ain’t easy being independent.”