Does free contraception for all really improve society?

The backlash against the free contraception for all mandate runs deeper than concern over religious liberty and expanding government. The arguments run counter to common sense. Photo: Associated Press

WASHINGTON, February 15, 2012 - The Obama Administration recently unveiled another piece of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act that requires all employers, regardless of beliefs, to provide a full range of contraceptive services free of charge. The wording in the Act suggests this could include all aspects of contraception, ranging from birth control pills to the morning after pill and sterilization. After controversy arose over religious liberty questions, an “accommodation” was made for Catholic organizations to have health insurance carriers notify women of the contraceptive options versus doing so directly themselves.

The ensuing backlash against this mandate runs deeper than concern over religious liberty and expanding government. The arguments for societal benefits resulting from free contraception run counter to common sense and contradict American’s deeply rooted appreciation for human life.

Here are some important general precepts regarding what many Americans still believe: 

  1. The decision to use birth control, terminate a pregnancy or any other action affecting a woman’s body is a private one.
  2. The government should not prevent women, along with their doctors and families, from making decisions about their bodies.
  3. The government should not take over the responsibility – either by paying for or dictating - individuals have for preventing pregnancy, or losing weight or making a house payment, etc.  

These beliefs regarding self-determination might explain why 55 percent of Americans believe abortion is morally wrong most of the time yet 49 percent call themselves pro-choice, while 43 percent identify themselves as pro-life, according to Rasmussen Reports.  

We are inherently a live and let live society. We may not always live up to our ideals but we still think they should guide American policy, in general. 

Why do we need free contraception? 

Arguments in favor of “free” contraception claim it will reduce the number of abortions as well as improve the health of women and their success in life.

When the Administration first announced in August of last year that they were defining birth control as preventive health care, Nancy Keenan, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America said, “Currently, nearly one in three women finds it difficult to pay for birth control, and that’s why the United States has a far higher unintended-pregnancy rate than other industrialized countries. Making family-planning services available at no cost will help millions of women prevent unintended pregnancy and thereby reduce the need for abortion.” 

According to the Guttmacher Institute, in 2008 nineteen percent of all pregnancies in the United States ended in abortion – 1.1 million. 

Their surveys predict that half (3 million) of the six million pregnancies that occur in the United States each year are unintended. Of the three million, 1.5 million of the unintended pregnancies occur among those who do not use or only sporadically use birth control - teenagers and older married women. The remaining 1.5 million unintended pregnancies happen for those who already practice contraception to prevent an unwanted pregnancy.

Vanessa Cullins, vice president for medical affairs at Planned Parenthood Federation of America, claimed, “This [classifying birth control as preventive health] is a huge victory for millions of women — and especially for African-American women, who have long struggled to pay for birth control and, as a result, suffer from the nation’s highest rates of unintended pregnancy.” 

She went on to cite studies that link access to contraception with high school graduation rates, career establishment and rates of incarceration for the children of those not fortunate enough to have access to free contraception. 

According to Guttmacher Institute, government funded “family planning centers” serve 40.8 percent of all American women in need of publicly supported contraceptive services. As of 2006, 8,199 publicly funded family planning centers exist, providing contraceptive care to approximately 7,198,210 women—including 1,794,940 teenagers annually.  

Are unintended pregnancies a national problem solved with free contraception? 

Margaret Sanger, founder of the organization that runs family planning centers, Planned Parenthood, wrote in her 1915 book on reproduction published for adolescents, What Every Boy and Girl Should Know, “It is a vicious cycle; ignorance breeds poverty and poverty breeds ignorance. There is only one cure for both, and that is to stop breeding these things. Stop bringing to birth children whose inheritance cannot be one of health or intelligence. Stop bringing into the world children whose parents cannot provide for them.” 

Beliefs that children are a burden, property or disposable for any reason reflect societies of a very different nature than America

China’s one child policy , established by Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping in 1979 to limit communist China’s population growth continues today. Between 1991 and 2006, Americans adopted 55,000 Chinese babies, mostly girls. 

In the Roman Family, the father could kill his wife or children as well as sell the children into slavery. Romans commonly drowned abnormal or weak children at birth, according to the writings of Seneca. During the Pax Romana, legislators passed laws requiring citizens to rear more children because of population decline, resulting at least in part from disregard for children.

Kelly Thoele writes about the widespread practice of child sacrifice in Aztec society as “necessary to feed the gods or to keep the sun on a daily course. “It has also been theorized that the sacrifices that were initially performed as impulses, grew to become obsessions.”

America is different

David Brog asserts In Defense of Faith that the Judeo-Christian “belief in the sanctity and equality of all humans has been our most effective tool in the struggle for humanity.” Our very foundation as a society was laid by this uncommon belief and carried forward in the gestational period of this country as stated in the Declaration of Independence, “all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”  

There was no concept of human rights prior to somewhere between 1300 and 1500 B.C. when God gave Moses the Law which set the ground rules for the first representative republic on earth. America was the first nation, beyond the Hebrews, to enshrine this concept fully into law.

To be a society that upholds these all but impossible ideals means living with the tension that some people will make good choices and some will make bad choices. With the case in point, government intervening to provide free contraception will not prevent unintended pregnancy entirely nor will it ensure that the women who avoided motherhood have successful lives. In fact, making pregnancy easier to prevent might hasten our decline as a society.

The United States is already at 149 in terms of birth rates out of 220 countries, with only 13.83 births per 1,000 people, according to the CIA World Fact Book.

Guttmacher Institute reports that most women in the United States, whatever their race and ethnicity, have two children; the exception is recent Hispanic immigrants, typically have three.

Ben Stein wrote, “The native-born upper middle class barely replace themselves in America, if they do at all. In a way we are committing suicide as a class, possibly in part because of the burdens of child rearing in modern life.”

Raising children, even under trying circumstances, does more to make us better people than any other life event. Nothing like a child encourages us to plant a seed for posterity, and without a willingness to think beyond ourselves, this nation will quickly go the way of the Romans and the many other now extinct or imploding cultures.

Carla Garrison follows current events with one eye on history and the other on the future.  Her goal is to encourage people to know the truth and use it as a call to personal action. Read more at Truth be Told.

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Carla Garrison

Carla writes about current issues and events with an aim toward telling the truth, using the writings of great thinkers, dead and living, as well as common sense.

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