Women will finally have their answer Monday: The Supreme Court is set to rule in the case brought by Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc., and Congestoga Wood Specialties Corp. against ObamaCare’s contraception mandate.
If these families win, the Supreme Court will essentially strike down the contraception mandate, or at least provide an exemption for family businesses. Some liberal women’s groups sounded the alarm: A ruling like this would mean lost access to birth control for millions of women.
But that’s simply not true.
Here’s some irony: Many of the statistics used by proponents of the mandate are actually evidence that it’s simply not needed. For example: Did you know that roughly 85 percent of group plans included contraceptive coverage before the mandate? It’s not likely then, that this percentage would drop absent the mandate, since most employers clearly have no moral qualms about providing the coverage.
Furthermore, (the liberals are right!) birth control coverage makes good economic sense since preventing an unplanned pregnancy is cheaper than shelling out for a birth (and losing an employee for maternity leave, etc.).
Here’s another example of a double-edged statistic: Fully 99 percent of sexually active women in the U.S. have used contraception. While this may demonstrate birth control’s popularity, it’s also evidence that birth control was widely accessible before this mandate on employers. That number is not going down if Hobby Lobby wins its case either.
Before ObamaCare, most women paid for birth control through an insurance plan, and those insurance plans aren’t going to automatically remove popular, economically-reasonable coverage for contraception because of a Supreme Court ruling. Arguments to the contrary are a classic big-government thought fallacy: That if “X” is not mandatory, “X” will cease to exist. News flash: Sometimes people and businesses do things because of their own will. The Supreme Court ruling will simply allow a small minority of religious employers to follow their religious beliefs.
That’s always been a founding principle in America. We are not (and never have been) a nation of majority rule. Just because the majority of people take a certain position or act a certain way doesn’t mean the minority should be forced to fall in line. That’s precisely why we have a Bill of Rights – to protect the individual rights of those who are outnumbered.
Given that the majority of people favor and use birth control, we need not worry about its availability or affordability. Drug companies will still produce, doctors will still prescribe, pharmacists will still sell, and insurance companies will still cover birth control in the vast majority of cases, no matter what the Supreme Court rules.
And what about those women who don’t have insurance? They will also have options, just as they always have.
For starters, there are some low-cost birth control options available through discount drug programs that offer birth control pills for as little as $9 each month.
Furthermore, most Americans seemingly don’t know about the existence of Title X public family-planning programs, which provide low- or no-cost birth controls to women and families for whom the cost of birth control truly presents a financial hardship. Public funding for these services totaled $2.37 billion in 2010.
The tens of millions of women who are on other public health insurance programs, like Medicaid, will still have first-dollar coverage for the full gamut of birth controls as well. And coverage for plans available in the exchanges would not change either.
In fact, even Hobby Lobby itself will continue to offer birth control coverage, as they have for years, for 16 of the 20 contraceptive methods approved by the FDA. The only methods of birth control that the owners object to covering are morning-after pills, week-after pills, and two types of intrauterine devices that they say can function as abortifacients.
It’s time to stop pretending that a ruling in favor of Hobby Lobby would result in the mass imposition of anti-contraceptive religious beliefs on Americans everywhere. In fact, the only imposition that is taking place is an over-bearing government, forcing family businesses to violate their faith (or pay a fine).
This debate is simply not about women’s health or the particular drugs and services available. It’s about how people with different beliefs can co-exist peacefully and productively. This can be worked out among employers and employees privately without interference from government.