Despite the barrage of negative press from the conservative media, the requirement that health insurance plans cover contraception is popular with the public. That’s according to a new poll published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, which found that 69 percent of Americans believe that contraception coverage should be a standard part of all health care plans. This was lower than the number of Americans who think that vaccines and mammograms should be covered (Eighty-five and 84 percent respectively), but overall, the conservative press has not managed to bamboozle the public into thinking contraception isn’t real medical care because it’s related to sex.
Women and people of color tended to register more support for the contraception mandate: 77 percent of women are pro-mandate, while only 64 percent of men are. Of the people who supported vaccination coverage but not contraception coverage, the report drily notes that they “included a higher proportion of persons unlikely to use” birth control coverage, a group that presumably includes not just men but women who currently aren’t using birth control.
Since your direct need for contraception tends to correlate strongly with your support for the contraception mandate, it seems that one thing reproductive rights activists could do is talk up the way that contraception benefits everyone, and not just the women who have the immediate need for it. It’s alarming, for instance, that fewer men than women support standardized contraception coverage. These men may think that birth control is a “women’s” issue, but most of them benefit, or have benefitted in the past from being able to have sex without getting anyone pregnant. Even if you are one of the very few Americans who never has the desire or opportunity for some recreational sex, you too benefit when women are able to plan for their pregnancies better. Unintended pregnancy costs American taxpayers $11 billion a year, meaning that covering contraception in health care saves everyone money. If people can’t be convinced to support the mandate because it’s the right thing to do, maybe they’ll be persuaded by self-interest.