The XX Factor

Missouri Representative Sues to Be Charged More for Birth Control

A pharmacist, just putting together someone’s presciption, without even considering that they may be a weak-willed contraception addict who needs help saying no.

Photo by FRED DUFOUR/AFP/Getty Images

Because anti-choice antics can never get confusing enough, this week a state legislator in Missouri, Paul Wieland (R), announced that he is suing in federal court so that he and his family will be charged more for any contraception they might decide to purchase using their health care plan. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports:

Wieland said they were seeking a personal exemption from the contraception requirement, not a blanket ruling against the law. But he said a victory would give the same right to other, like-minded people.

“I see abortion-inducing drugs as intrinsically evil, and I cannot in good conscience preach one thing to my kids and then just go with the flow on our insurance,” said Rep. Wieland, who has three daughters. “This is a moral conundrum for me. Do I just cancel the coverage and put my family at risk? I don’t believe in what the government is doing.”

To be clear, the HHS mandate does not cover “abortion-inducing” drugs—only contraception—so Wieland doesn’t need to worry that he or the women in his family will be tempted into aborting pregnancies like they’re kids playing Space Invaders. Of course, it is common in anti-choice circles now to call drugs that suppress ovulation “abortion-inducing” (which is like saying you’re “quitting” a job you didn’t even apply to), so this is likely what he’s discussing. However he wishes to contextualize it, however, the fact remains: Wieland is suing the federal government so that he and his family members personally get charged more for birth control than everyone else. 

Presumably Wieland wants to be charged moreor, realistically, wants his wife and daughters to be charged more—at the pharmacy for birth control pills to deter them from actually using the pills. And here I thought Republicans were against “nanny state” policies that try to influence behavior! I’m sorry Wieland fears his own paternal authority isn’t powerful enough to keep his daughters away from those nasty pills. Still, I don’t really think it’s the government’s place to sculpt individual insurance policies on a family-by-family basis to accommodate specialized parental lessons. That seems like it’s opening the door to a bureaucratic nightmare. First, anti-contraception parents will want to be charged higher prices for contraception, and next the anti-vaccination parents are going to want the government to force insurance companies to charge them so they won’t be tempted, in a moment of weakness, to use the free vaccination services that insurance companies also have to offer under the HHS mandate. 

Here’s a compromise: Why don’t those families just create a health care version of the swear jar? Every time you get some free contraception or even a free vaccine, drop $50 or $100 in the “copay jar,” and at the end of the month, give it to charity or something. You’re getting charged for the services you feel you need to be charged for, and all without the hassle of a lawsuit. Win/win.