In a common sense world, there would be no controversy over including contraception in the slate of preventive services that the federal government will soon require insurance companies to offer at no cost to their customers. Fairness alone should justify it, but there’s also the fact that it’s universally agreed that the results of not using contraception-unwanted pregnancy, abortion, teenage pregnancy-are best avoided. But the Heritage Foundation and the National Abstinence Education Association are demanding that the federal government make an exception in the new rules for contraception. As usual, I’m forced to think that perhaps the anti-choice movement actually prefers a high unwanted pregnancy rate, and therefore a high abortion rate, since they work so hard to preserve it.
Co-pays on birth control currently run anywhere from a reasonable $15 a month to upwards of $50 a month. While this may not seem like a huge deal to many, sadly there are a lot of women who find that birth control pills are priced out of their range. The Guttmacher Institute found that 18 percent of women on the pill in households that make less that $75,000 a year have resorted to inconsistent pill use to save money. Of course, if you’re in a position where a $50 co-pay stresses your finances that much, you’re probably even less likely to be up for having the baby if you get pregnant, and that much more likely to get an abortion. There’s a reason that the United States has the highest teen pregnancy and abortion rates in the developed world, and that’s because we’re just not as good at using consistent contraception. And that it’s a major hassle and expense to get it is a big part of the reason.
The increasingly standard pro-choice adage-anti-abortion groups, when given a choice between preventing abortion and punishing female sexuality, will choose the latter every time-holds up once again. I’m almost embarrassed for them at this point, since the bait is offered and they can’t help but take it.
Photograph of birth control pills by Tim Matsui/Getty Images News.