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MARCH 5, 2012 7:53PM

Birth Control Is Not a Women's Issue: It's a Human Right

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Our national conversation about birth control has veered into bad science fiction lately, as Rick Santorum has declared the prevention of unwanted pregnancies wrong and Rush Limbaugh accused women who utilize birth control of being sluts. Flirting with some kind of misogynistic dystopian vision of a “new America,” far right radicals are trying to use the weapons of their words to undermine a hundred years of progress.


Woman-hating is nothing new in this country, but these men are going about it all wrong. Preventing pregnancy isn’t a women’s issue, it’s a human right; and one men want as much as women.


What exactly does the far right believe about most men…that they want to impregnate their partners with as many babies as possible and then support a large family? Some couples are into this, and the large family is making a comeback in conservative communities. But everyone I know would prefer to be accidentally sterilized to accidentally pregnant, especially after having a couple kids. Many married men I know signed up for vasectomies rather than risk adding one more babe to their brood. Is that a sin, Santorum?


The “guy culture” I observe in the media and in real life is far different than the fevered fantasy of masculinity preached by the religious right. Most guys I know just aren’t into that whole male dominion over women and families thing. It doesn’t float their boat. A woman who uses birth control isn’t a slut… she’s his wife or girlfriend.


Life in the 21st century is more responsible in some ways, and looser in others. I hypothesize the far right feels extraordinarily threatened by the casualness that most people regard birth control and sex. Couples have sex before marriage now, but also uncoupled people hook up. For most of us, there’s no shame in sexuality any longer, and if there is, a round of therapy will clear it up. This attitude doesn’t feel correct to the right, and so they rail against it for everyone else.


The far right goes after birth control, and specifically Planned Parenthood and insurance coverage of the medications, because they want women re-subordinated. But they’ve overstepped. Most men are involved in decisions about birth control. They are involved because they have the right to control the creation or size of their families as much as women do.


There are more options available for women in the prevention of pregnancy, which is why they usually seek it, but I’ve never dated a man who didn’t bring it up. Everyone has “the talk” in sexual relationships now to figure out how not to get pregnant. Accidents happen and there is no fail safe method of prevention; but responsible use usually yields happy results both for men and women.


I challenge Rush and Santorum, and everyone in politics and the media with a similar worldview, to keep talking about sluts and the immorality of birth control. This will piss most women off; which will encourage them to get involved in politics. Also, it’ll convince every reasonable Republican man to vote against his party in the fall. Birth control is every man’s right, just as it is every woman’s.


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Santorum has a PERSONAL opinion and has said that he, "unlike the left", has no desire to impose his PERSONAL opinion on other people.

If you want birth control. It is available. Buy it. End of issue.

The right here is the right of people to follow their consciences and not PAY for this "right". (And baby, just cause you cry, "Wah, wah, wah, and proclaim something a human right, doesn't make it so. Ah, immaturity.)

If you can't afford the monthly cost of birth control, try Planned Parenthood. If you are interested in OTHERS getting this and fear they won't, DONATE to PP. If you think there are not enough clinics like PP, start one yourself.

Just don't make ME pay for YOUR birth control.
Why, why, why is this an issue? No one seems to have a problem with diabetes medication, heart conditions, eyeglasses, etc. Yet sex is a "voluntary" activity, and no one should have to support it. Uh huh. Yeah right. The activity that created the entire human race, as well as every other animal on the planet, is entirely voluntary, recreational, no more a necessary part of humanity than, say, skiing or windsurfing. You want to windsurf? Buy your own board. You want to have sex? Buy your own contraceptives.


Sex is as intrinsic a part of being human as breathing, as loving, as crying, as eating dinner. Yes, we can decide what we eat, who we eat with, and how often. We can decide where we breathe, whom we love, and (sometimes) what we cry about. But to write off sex as recreational, optional, and unnecessary? That's ridiculous.

I would agree with every word, Maureen, that it's a men's issue just as much as a women's issue.

Unless you are a health insurance company, no one is asking you to go out of pocket for anything.
toritto- any sensible woman or man shouldn't vote for these fanatics...the men would have to be working three jobs to support the barefoot woman and ten kids. Great comments, thanks for posting them.

Barbara- you happy paying for other women's multiple pregnancies? Insurance companies have to cover those and they are way more expensive than b.c.

froggy- I agree whole-heartedly with this comment...this is nature, not recreation.

Nick- thanks for this.
I agree with Toritto. Who in the hell is listening to these people and who votes for them?
Good one Ms M
Excellent post
In full agreement with Toritto
Maureen writes: "Preventing pregnancy isn’t a women’s issue, it’s a human right; and one men want as much as women. . . . Couples have sex before marriage now, but also uncoupled people hook up. For most of us, there’s no shame in sexuality any longer, and if there is, a round of therapy will clear it up. "

I'm not sure what you mean by "human right." Women have the right to use birth control. They have a right to get abortions. They also have the right to abstain from sexual intercourse (unthinkable to some) and the right to have sex. This is not exactly news, so I suspect that there is some other point to your post.

Beyond the rights listed above, is there some other right to which you refer?
Great post.

BJ, the reality is that if the conservative movement continues to subordinate individual freedoms in order to push the wedge politics that use Christianity as a weapon, we're all going to be in a world of hurt. If you want less government in your life, get your right-wing morality-policing politicians out of our bedrooms.
Preventing one's own pregnancy is a human right. Mandating birth control availability is a legal right derived from a human right to make laws.
@Nick Carraway

I don't think Barbara Joanne is an insurance company, but she weeps for them.
The right wing candidates and speakers are spewing these horrible statements simply to sound nasty, vulgar and impolite; they are playing to the base. No one believes any of this medieval bullshit they are saying. Human rights and especially women's rights have come a long way. These nitwits are talking as if we still have adultery laws and stuff. Society as a whole must respond harshly to these backwater bullies. Yet no one is responding with appropriate strength. All what the women rights supporters do is keep apologizing for women's actions. The phrase "reproductive rights" should be eliminated from our discourse; it is demeaning to women. Only a woman should decide what to do with her body. Birth control is a woman's decision; a physician's job is to give advice and that is that. Excellent post, Maureen. R
Barbara Joanne's ridiculously simplistic view of the issue is astounding, not to mention her blindness to the right's desire to destroy Planned Parenthood and ban birth control.

Health Insurance companies aren't complaining AT ALL about this mandate, AT ALL, and THEY'RE the ones footing the bill.

You know why?

Because they know it's GOOD for their customers (patients & employers), and GOOD for their bottom lines.

This mandate won't cost you a PENNY, in fact it will save you money.

Unless you want to pay higher premiums, your argument is farcical.
What's cheaper, birth control or babies? Babies turn into kids. Who need to go to school. Want to see what your tax bill will be when every family has 9 kids? I didn't think so.
Paul writes: "Preventing one's own pregnancy is a human right. Mandating birth control availability is a legal right derived from a human right to make laws."

Paul, people have all sorts of rights. But as a matter of public policy it is very rare to legally mandate that the exercise of the right be funded. People have a right to free speech, but we don't mandate that newspapers give everyone his or her own op-ed column. People have a right to a fair trial, but we provide lawyers only to those who "cannot afford one." People have a right to have sex, but we don't mandate that hotels provide free rooms for homeless people to have sex. (Although it appears that you think the government could.)

With respect to public policy, the idea that the individual exercise of a right should be funded by someone other than the individual is something new under the sun. If the government is going to be in the business of making sure that the exercise of individual rights is funded, where does that end? What is the policy principle that says "we'll make sure that this is funded, but not that?"

You say that "mandating birth control availability is a legal right." That's fine, but so is NOT mandating birth control availability. In other words, it may be a legal right, but it is not a legal obligation. The "human right to make laws" also presumes the right NOT to make laws. Stating that it is a legal right does not really mean anything other than "the government can do it." Ok, so the government can do it. So what?

If someone thinks that forcing a Catholic school to provide free birth control to the female students, that's great, and we can talk about that. But it has nothing to do with the right of female students to prevent pregnancy, as the right of the individual creates no obligation on the part of the school to provide for the free exercise of that right.

So I come back to my original question: what "right" is the author of the post asserting?
Mishima666, interesting name. My reading of it is this. Access to BC creates a more vital society. People have a biological need to procreate and telling people to abstain if they don't want babies is ridiculous. Unwanted children are a drain on society as babies, as children, and as adults. Preventing unwanted children frees up resources that can then benefit society. So why wouldn't we want to do that?

There is irony here, too. Liberals and moderates tend to have fewer children, but the ranks of the liberals and moderates continue to grow. Where do they all come from?
We'd use birth control in the henhouse, but Bigfoot keeps taking the eggs so our population remains fairly stable. Call my hens sluts, however? You'd best move swiftly thru this barnyard!
Phyllis writes: "Access to BC creates a more vital society," & etc.

Ok, good argument. I'm going to disagree with it, and more on that momentarily. But what you're doing is making an argument for birth control, not just claiming that there is some kind of mysterious "right" to it. I like that.

If women need access to birth control, my view is that they already have it. Nothing is perfect, but short of putting Levora in the drinking water the U.S. has done a good job of giving women access to birth control. I think there are very few women who have to forego the pleasures of l'amor because they cannot afford birth control. And if the now-famous Ms. Fluke is bright enough to succeed in Georgetown law school, my guess is that she's also enterprising enough to figure out some way to pay for birth control.

Yes, there are a relative few religious organizations that don't want to include birth control in their health plans. But even so, I think that there is still sufficient access to birth control such that there is no compelling reason for the federal government to force those organizations to provide something that is contrary to their moral teachings. Of course the women who want birth control who are affiliated with those organizations would prefer to get it for free rather than having to pay for it. But then most of us would like to get other free things from our health insurance too.
Mishima666, why couldn't you agree that insurance should supply BC the same as they do other common medications? You already pay for things with your insurance premium that you don't agree with, I'm guessing babies born to unwed mothers fall into that category, so why wouldn't you agree that birth control to prevent that baby is a better, more cost effective, option?

I'm not asking you to take it or to recommend it to anyone, but access to preventive health care is a right. Ergo, access to BC is a right.
Bravo, Maureen. Excellent essay and right on target.
Great Job. Well said and right to the point. Just had a rip roaring discussion about this last night with a very conservative woman who has a very large family. She will defend Rush by some kind of convoluted justification that he spins in his own defense. Thankfully, we parted as friends. Birth control IS a human right. Right on!
This is brilliant and should be a Cover. I would want to see it in newspapers, too. rated.
birth control should be available free to all people everywhere who are willing to use it. Population control should be one of our main concerns if we want to survive as a species.
Excellent post, Maureen. Birth control is a human right. This is internationally recognized in The United Nations' Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, Article 12, "States Parties shall take all appropriate measures to eliminate discrimination against women in the field of health care in order to ensure, on a basis of equality of men and women, access to health care services, including those related to family planning." Access to family planning information, health care providers, and services is a human right, and as you point out, it doesn't just improve the lives of women, but also men, children, and families.
...the same document, article 16, also states that men & women have: "The same rights to decide freely and responsibly on the number and spacing of their children and to have access to the information, education and means to enable them to exercise these rights."
What Clayball, Thoth, Phyllis, froggy, and Jonathan all said.
Excellent piece, Maureen, thank you!
Some of the commenters here miss a larger issue of law: if religious organizations are allowed to NOT cover birth control b/c of their moral objections, then logically, they are allowed to NOT cover other things for the same reason. Should a company controlled by a Christian Scientist be allowed to exempt coverage for blood transfusions? Should a company owned by a Scientologist be allowed to exempt anti-depressants?

This issue has many layers. One, as Maureen and others point out, is to re-subjugate women. Another- and perhaps a largley unintended one- is to give employers' personal beliefs huge power over their hapless employees.

So even if you think birth control is wrong and you don't want to pay for it (Barbara) you might want to reconsider supporting this type of legal move against birth control. At least if you believe that blood transfusions and anti-depressants are morally acceptable and you might want to use them someday...
Laura--I agree. Opening this door to employers to decide what medical treatments they agree with or disagree with is a mess we do not want to get into. Why should my employer get to decide what treatment I get, to that degree of minutia? What if they think ADHD isn't real, so my kids don't get medications? What if they think depression is just a crock from Big Pharma, so they don't want to pay for Wellbutrin or Paxil? What if they think Type II diabetics are just fat lazy slobs who should lose weight instead of taking medication? An employer could argue any of these points. What makes a religious objection to a medication any more or less valid than any other objection?
Government funds all sorts of legal rights, and provides a court system to defend them. But that's not my point. We, the Peeps, have a right to make laws or not, as you note.
The right of citizens, men and women, to make laws mandating, in this case, birth control availability, extends from the human right, so it's not entirely separable. That there are reasons beyond preventing pregnancy in the case of the pill is also a matter of a human right to create legal rights.

Where does it end?
It ends where it begins -- with the people's desire for specific legislation. There's a Constitution that should protect minority rights, but it's not a blueprint that answers every question of public policy, and wasn't written with that intention. In fact, it was written to avoid becoming a legal code, tied to the issues of the drafter's day.

You say:
"But it has nothing to do with the right of female students to prevent pregnancy, as the right of the individual creates no obligation on the part of the school to provide for the free exercise of that right."

The individuals have the right to create the obligation of the school's compliance with the law. If not, then there would be no law, which is, again, also a right.

As to what the author considers a human right, I've pointed out my differing opinion.

As to your response to Phyllis, which is as familiar as mine is by now, you keep insisting the religious organizations have a right to ignore the law as a matter of conscience. If there was a law that mandated churches provide BC coverage, the religious objection would be upheld. Schools and hospitals that draw from the general pool of citizens must conform to what those citizens require as it's their marketplace, not the organization's.

If you find a right to object to BC coverage as an unwilling relation to an immoral act, would you also say the religious organization is tied to every perceived immoral act an employee might commit? I mean, they do hire gay people and there is a certainty that many they hire regularly commit sins. Should they be free to fire gay people? When they find out an employee uses BC, should they be free to fire them? I am familiar with the fundamentalist concept that black people don't have the seed of Abraham, so a business owner can refuse any relationship to black people?

That might sound slippery-slope-ish, but you're insisting the moral objection right becomes a principle of law, and as such, can't be contained to narrow and selective examples.

The Establishment Clause protects the free exercise of religion. A school or hospital that caters to a general population isn't an "establishment of religion."
Congress shall make no law respecting (in deference to) an establishment (a recognized church ) of religion, or preventing the free exercise thereof.
A school or hospital isn't an establishment of religion. Its employees and customers aren't members of a congregation. By performing the functions of a school or hospital, the religious organization enters the secular world, and so must conform to a wide scope of regulation.
The reason we have an establishment clause is to avoid religious laws, which is a violation of freedom of conscience. You would have the religious organizations enforcing religious law upon secular employees performing a secular function. Aside from the debilitating impracticality of having a plethora of religious laws being enforced on secular citizens, you advocate the violation, on a grand scale, of citizen's freedom of conscience based on a flawed perception of the establishment clause. Your viewpoint does, in fact, turn the concept on its head, denying the establishment clause it's essential function.

No right is absolute, as claims of rights can always find a point of conflict with other rights. The right of the citizens to make laws that regulate activity in THEIR marketplace is by far more powerful than a specious claim by a religious organization that willingly enters that marketplace and wants to enforce religious law by dint of ownership.
That there are laws that GRANT the right of refusal of services or products in some cases is the people granting a privilege and legal right acknowledging that a reasonable objection exists. In this BC case, they are saying they refuse to recognize the objection, and the people have every right to do so.

We, the People rule ourselves. We make the laws, not the churches. Whether people can obtain BC by other means isn't a valid point when the people have the right to make the law. Our concept of liberty is grounded in practical function and churches effectively making law is extremely dysfunctional and horribly arbitrary. Churches making law is one significant reason we broke with European conservative tradition and created a liberal society.
Let's not go back to that.
What an interesting discussion. I've been reading these comments and thinking about them today. clay ball's comments are wonderful, and support the point I'm making, which is that it is a human right to create the family you desire and have the resources to choose. Thank you for posting this. Thank you everyone for participating.

Expanding how we think about human rights improves everyone's quality of life.
It's sorta funny to me that so many of these criticisms go out the door when you start talking about Ron Paul, rather than these non-conservatives like Limbaugh and Santorum—who are more than happy to have mandates and welfare when it comes to domestic spying, the military-industrial complex, or "abstinence programs."

With that said, I think it's likewise funny to watch self proclaimed liberals use State power to compel others to pay for things they sincerely believe immoral. So, whether it's the "left" compelling the "right" to pay for abortions, birth control, and subsidized housing, or the "right" compelling the "left" to pay for wars, oil subsidies, or domestic spying, the PRINCIPLE IS THE SAME, and voting becomes nothing more than an act of self-defense.

How bout a third option? Where government isn't in the business of handing out ANYTHING? No bailouts, no subsidies, no mandates, no favors, no wars for special interest, no social engineering by ANYONE through the use or threat of State violence. No "women's" rights, no "minority" rights, no corporate rights, no group "rights" at all, but the universal rights of each and every INDIVIDUAL.

I'll never understand why this is such a radical concept these days. We've all been duped into viewing LIBERTY as what's dangerous, instead of the State. Till we figure out we've been duped, we'll have this eternal civil war for control of that State forever...
Laura writes: "Should a company controlled by a Christian Scientist [Jehovah's Witness, actually] be allowed to exempt coverage for blood transfusions? Should a company owned by a Scientologist be allowed to exempt anti-depressants?"

These are medical interventions designed to restore someone to health and normal function. Birth control is different in that it is designed to interrupt normal functioning -- unless one considers fertility to be a "disease."

But let's say that your hypothetical situations actually happened. What would follow from that? Well, people would pay for their own blood transfusions and anti-depressants while the insurance covered everything else. Potential employees could decide if they wanted to work for such companies.

What people don't realize is that these kinds of exemptions already exist. As I mentioned in another comment, I used to have insurance that didn't cover injections. Any time a physician approached me with syringe and needle in hand, that wasn't covered. So I paid for my own injections and insurance covered everything else. The sun still rose in the morning and the earth continued to spin on its axis.

Why did the company have health insurance that didn't cover injections? Maybe the company didn't want to pay for them. Maybe the company president didn't believe in them. Maybe he thought God opposed injections. Who knows? Does it matter? Whatever the reason, people still wanted to work for the company, they were happy for what the insurance did pay for, and everything went just fine without federal intervention.

froggy writes: "Opening this door to employers to decide what medical treatments they agree with or disagree with is a mess we do not want to get into."

This already happens. Health insurance covers some things and doesn't cover other things. Such decisions may or may not be financial.

Paul writes: "Should they be free to fire gay people?"

Hiring and firing policies are covered by civil rights laws. I would only note that there is a huge difference between denying someone a livelihood and having insurance that doesn't cover a particular service.

Paul: "That might sound slippery-slope-ish, but you're insisting the moral objection right becomes a principle of law, and as such, can't be contained to narrow and selective examples."

What I'm saying is that because birth control is an elective service, already widely available and affordable, the feds can give the few religious employers who object to BC a pass in this case. I mean, it's not like the church does want to pay for chemotherapy or fixing broken bones.

Clay writes: "Access to family planning information, health care providers, and services is a human right . . . "

Access is a right. Having someone else pay for it isn't.
The problem with this discussion is what "the left" considers a right.

A "right" is something that you are free to chose to do or not to do. A "right" is something that only you can decide on. The federal or state government can not interfere with you doing or not doing it. Your employer, and if you are the age of majority, your family can not interfere with with it.

A "right" does not create an obligation for someone else to pay for what you want. If someone wants to pay for what you want that's up to them.

As for the conversation about what the UN said. Read it again. It says the right to ACCESS. Everybody in this country has access. It may not be exactly the access you want, but the UN doesn't mandate perfect access that you deem it. It just says it has to be available to you somehow.

My insurance has pages of exclusions. Some of them I would like to take advantage of. I would love for them to pay for them, and it would be cheaper for them if they did, but they don't. It doesn't stop me from having access to the procedure or getting it done, it just defines who is going to pay for it. That is what is happening here. There are some organizations and business who are making a decision for what ever reason (I don't care if it's religious or just stupid) that they want an exclusion added to the list that is already in their insurance plan.

If you work for one of these organizations that don't provide something that you want you have choices. You can work someplace else. You can not take their insurance package and buy one on the open market that provides what you want. Or, you can just pay for the procedure out of pocket.

You have access. You have choices. All I hear is people complaining like a spoiled kid because mommy or daddy said they can't have a candy bar or something else they wanted.
Key words "most guys I know." Like me, I sincerely doubt you're hanging out with the d-bags espousing this crap. I run in liberal, educated circles, but it's downright shocking when we leave the bubble and find out how many racist, misogynistic a-holes there are out there. Good piece!

So how does not agreeing with you make some a racist? Their thoughts might make them wrong. It may make you wrong, but it has nothing to do with race.

What it does do is cast doubt on the part of your statement about an "educated circles".
mishima666: "Birth control is different in that it is designed to interrupt normal functioning"

Except that it is also prescribed to preserve "normal" function (as Fluke's friend is an example), or to return an out-of-whack function to "normal" (as one of my friends who had debilitating periods that were only mitigated when she was on BC could attest to). Why shouldn't BC be covered by health insurance since it has uses beyond merely conception control?

Societies in general as more stable when women have DIRECT control over their fertility (meaning efficient access to all forms of control, from monthly pills to prevent pregnancy through abortions to terminate pregnancy). BC when prescribed by a doctor is only cheap if you are financially secure. If you are not, it can be expensive or inconvenient to the point of being inaccessible. All a man needs to do to get BC is walk into a store. For a woman, she needs to schedule a doctor's appointment, take time off of work, then pay bunches of money EVERY MONTH regardless of how many times she has sex (once a month or once an hour). Access & cost are not equally born by both people having the sex.

And with that in mind, the only way to make it fair is to make it covered by insurance.
The post's author misidentifies the conservative's position in the current debate as anti birth control. In fact the conservative argument is that the collective should not be forced to pay for contraceptives - either through taxes if government funded, or through premium payments if insurance company funded.
Any argument that fails to identify this position - or skews it to "The far right goes after birth control because they want women re-subordinated" is deceitful.
Nick - Obviously you are clueless. The OP and everyone else realizes there is a cost to everyone. Do you live under a rock?

froggy - I am not interested in RS's motives. For me it i cost.
Having sex is not a medical condition. Getting pregnant is not a disease. You try to distinguish sex from other recreation but it is not. I agree sex in natural instinct. And so is other types of recreation. People naturally want to be occupied with things that make them feel good.

Frank - there is one ad only one reason women can get contraceptives. Because someone invented them. They are a product just like anything else.

This is all a result of Obamacare. You get gov mandated health care and the first obvious consequence is a debate over what is health care and what is not. See why it is better to leave the gov out of things? Now we get to debate forever what is covered and not. You all seem to think this s about control of women and morals etc.
It is not. This issue may be. But every medical condition/treatment/prevention well come under debate.
Is the gov going give me the extra $ to pay Whole Foods' ridiculous prices so I may prevent a whole host of potential illnesses? Will I get Propecia? Otherwise I might get depressed, which will cost money, because I am bald and cannot get enough sex.

Well my guess is that liberals will say yes to the above.
Cedar - I always get a good laugh when liberals claim to be smarter and more educated than conservatives. Total bullshit.
You seem to equate education with similar thinking. You think there are no ignorant and uneducated liberals around?
Dear Conservatives -

Before you start going on about costs, please read this: http://aspe.hhs.gov/health/reports/2012/contraceptives/ib.shtml#TOC

Based on studies that go back to '99 the cost of Health Insurance Companies providing contraception without a co-pay, is revenue neutral. Plus it saves the employers money.

Meaning: Catholic Hospitals, Schools, etc, wouldn't actually have to come up with any cash, they would save money and if that offends them they can choose to pay higher premiums or return the savings.

Since it saves insurance companies money, it saves ALL policy holders money.

Meaning: arguing against this mandate is like arguing for higher premiums.

Finally, if Doctors could fight insurance companies who refuse to cover something, or employers who refuse to approve coverage of something, then Sandra Fluke's friend wouldn't be missing an Ovary and 20% of Georgetown Students wouldn't be getting denied coverage when they need birth control for medical reasons.

Finally, have you heard insurance companies complaining about this mandate?


So why are you complaining about something that saves you money, boredom?

This is a straw man argument, and I find it difficult to believe that you don't know it. Observant Catholics don't believe in artificial (non-rhythm) birth control, but I have never heard one of them -- and that includes Santorum -- say that there should be a law against it.

Limbaugh has not come out against birth control. He, and Santorum, and some other Republicans are making a fuss because Obama tried to force Catholic institutions to provide it free of charge to their employees. In that, Obama overstepped his constitutional powers, or so it appears. Thank God for the first amendment.

Limbaugh called Sandra Fluke a "slut," an unfortunate choice of words, not because she favors birth control, but because she said that the American taxpayer ought to pay for it for her and anyone else. Limbaugh's logic was that if you ask someone to pay for you to have sex, then that makes you a prostitute. A Limbaugh-style joke, but a bad one this time. Anyway, he doesn't want to deny anyone the legal right to birth control.


To suggest otherwise is demagogic and intellectually dishonest, and designed solely to influence the outcome of the next election. It is the kind of tactic used by people who believe that the end justifies the means. Do you really want to be nothing better than a propagandist for the Democratic party? What a waste of writing talent.

There are plenty of genuine issues out there, on which the two sides have legitimate differences. Why not direct your attention to those?
mish: "Access is a right. Having someone else pay for it isn't."

It is now. Insurance involves others paying for it anyway.

Yes, We, the People could give religious organizations a pass on birth control, but we, the people don't want to and it's our prerogative. If I want to live under religious law, I'll join a Monastery.

You're confused about the meaning of a right. I think you created your own definition. A legal right is a consequence of law. For example, you have a legal right to collect Social Security and a legal right to drive, under normal conditions. Choosing to not exercise a right or not has nothing to do with a right, but the law you must obey, regardless.

If you want the third option, move to Libertopia. Americans don't want libertarianism, nor does any other country on Earth. In the free market of governing systems, or un-governing systems such as libertarianism, nobody is buying the product. This, even though libertarianism has existed for 170 years, 50 fewer years than our Constitution, which violates libertarian beliefs in a big way.

That sounds better, but it's not what we're hearing from Saint Santorum or Rush Limbo. It's about interrupting procreation, a very unwise extrapolation of the anti-choice position. The babbling about cost and who pays is a fallback excuse.

Anyone claiming to be conservative without trying to qualify it to separate themselves from the rolling ball of seething ignorance that is the majority perception of conservatism among conservatives deserves the ignorant charge. If it's any comfort to you, today's conservatives aren't really conservatives. They are, to quote the late great William Buckley:
"...the well-fed Right, whose ignorance and amorality have never been exaggerated for the same reason that one cannot exaggerate infinity."
So, don't blame liberals for pointing out the ignorance. Buckley did it years ago.
This whole condom conundrum began because Santorum said he believed a state can outlaw birth control. This means he disagreed with the Supreme Court Griswold v. Connecticut ruling that said a state could not outlaw BC.

Look again, Arthur. The straw man is dancing on your lack of memory.
Show me where Santorum said that there SHOULD be a law against birth control, and then I will worry about my memory.
bodhistate writes: "Why shouldn't BC be covered by health insurance since it has uses beyond merely conception control?"

In my experience (20 years as a hospital data analyst) insurance plans that won't pay for birth control to control fertility will pay for it to treat diagnosed disease (endometriosis, interstitial cystitis, polycystic ovarian syndrome, and so on.) I can't say that's always the case, but I believe it is almost always true.
Disagreeing with an outright ban on outlawing BC does seem to say he agrees with outlawing birth control. His walk-back was due to the reaction and came much later. Now you want to split the straw man's hairs, but he's still dancing.

All you "pushing the costs on to others" guys need to look at this. The cost of the birth control mandate? Zero. It saves money, which any insurance company could have told you and did, if your predisposition didn't clog your ears.

It is so great that you are using a human rights framework to write about this issue! Kudos to you for this piece and thank you (and clay ball) for putting the issue in the context of international human rights. Of course, the US has not yet ratified the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). Which speaks volumes.
I'd suggest many of the posters here as well as Maureen should go to this article:


I believe contraception is the responsibility of both the male and female who chose to indulge in intercourse; however, I also believe that we should ensure that birth control (condoms or pills) is available to those that need it on a reasonable basis. Obama has chosen to stick it to the insurers (not my favorite companies, but necessary) rather than looking at evidence based medicine which as early as 1993 suggested making the pill OTC. Consider that one of the controversial morning after pills is over the counter, but only for those over 17. I'd suggest Obama make the FDA put the pill over the counter. It should be avilable to any human (male or female) who is indulging in sex. Yes that means 12 year olds as well.

If you belive in women's right to contraception then you have to believe in open access, and yes that means for all.

"For example, you have a legal right to collect Social Security and a legal right to drive, under normal conditions."

SS is not a right. You can collect it only if the government wants to pay it. You don't have a right to it because somebody can take it away from you. As for driving it's been held for a very long time that driving is a privilege. There is no right to drive. You can't tell a cop or judge you have a right to drive.

The problem with liberals. You think things are a right when they are not. A right can not be taken away from you except for certain crimes.
I'd agree if you were correct, but you're not. You must be thinking of a dad taking the keys away from their kid to arrive at "privilege," and wrong when you say no judge would agree with me.

All normal conditions met, you have a legal right to drive. Just like I said above...

...or, as it's stated in II American Jurisprudence, Constitutional Law section 329:
"The Right of the Citizen to travel upon the public highways and to transport his property thereon, by horse drawn carriage, wagon, or automobile, is not a mere privilege which may be permitted or prohibited at will, but the common Right which he has under his Right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Under this Constitutional guarantee one may, therefore, under normal conditions, travel at his inclination along the public highways or in public places, and while conducting himself in an orderly and decent manner, neither interfering with nor disturbing another's Rights, he will be protected, not only in his person, but in his safe conduct."

The same is true of Social Security. It's a legal right, sufficient qualifications being met.

If you were to define a Right as something that cannot be removed, then there are absolutely no Rights to be had. Even the Natural Rights of life, liberty and pursuit of happiness can be taken from you through due process of law.

Now, hopefully, you realize what a legal right means. Of course, you as much as admit you're wrong when you first say (at some length) a right can't be taken away and then acknowledge a right can be taken away, but I can't explain how you arrived at that contradiction.
You are simply wrong.
But the author of this blog didn't answer Mr. Louis' question.

In fact, and you guys will hate him all you want, Mr. Santorum made a point about this, saying that, "unlike the left" he had no desire to impose his values via law (in this area) on anyone.

The philosophical discussion about the legal merits of Griswald (I believe I have the name right) are different. There are even liberal legal people who will question the legal merits as regarding, especially, the rights (or not) of states to pass their own laws. I'm not saying I agree or not. I am saying that this is the point Santorum is speaking to.

Take care.
Well, Torrito, the man has said what he has said. I don't think he wants to ban birth control and I am very sure that even if he did, he'd not be able to.
Nick, the point is that the Church, love it or hate it, is being asked to provide for something they do not believe in. People are free to buy their own birth control or find an insurance company that covers it for them - should they be employed by a Church-owned organization.
Author of the post - I don't pay for other women's multiple pregnancies. (And if you feel you do via the new health "insurance" mandate, then maybe you shouldn't support it.) And this type of "getting into other people's bedrooms" - judging their amount of children and pregnancies - is one of the reasons I don't support national, mandated insurance plans and also, by the way, fear the left.

But when there are problems in society - and there always will be - I'll make my mistakes on the side of personal freedom.

And, sorry, birth control is available, cheap and easy to get. This is a bogus issue.
And author, anyone who cannot manage birth control now is probably not going to abstain from additional pregnancies (which are her personal business anyway) just because her Catholic employer provides her with free birth control.
D. Horne - they aren't in your bedrooms, they just don't want to be forced to pay for birth control if it is against their conscience.

BTW, I'll stay out of your bedroom if you stay out of my personal choices, including my multiple pregnancies should I want them and my sex education of my kids and my, sorry, religious freedom.

No one is stopping you all from getting birth control. Mishima666 is totally correct.
Laura, yes, a company owned by a Christian Scientist should be able to follow their conscience. They may not have any employees, but that is what they get.

You are free to work elsewhere.

And the "effort to destroy Planned Parenthood" - started by a racist eugenicist by the way - is an effort to stop government funding of PP. You all are free to write them a check if you fear their demise. I suggest you do so.

And maybe consider a few start-up charities of your own to help the women you think need your help. Go for it.
Catnlion, Mishima, and Art, so glad you're at OS. And for some interesting philosophical discussions, really brilliant stuff some of it - although most of you won't agree - check out "The Human Life Review". They raise some challenging issues.

Bye and thanks to the author for her provocative post.
In Griswold v. Connecticut the Court used a right to privacy as the standard for disallowing a state to outlaw contraceptives. As that was extended in Roe v. Wade, it is a very seminal decision. As such, Santorum's rejection of Griswold is necessary to his rejection of Roe, so his motivation isn't state's rights, it's the right to privacy. Believing that abortion should be outlawed across America doesn't afford a Santorum the "state's rights" option.

Privacy isn't explicitly stated in the Constitution. It's derived from other rights, and I don't think it was defended by using the 9th amendment. It's as close to a Natural Law decision as can be had, basically.

States can pass their own laws, but the Supremacy Clause says Federal law is superior. You'll notice, perhaps, that the ACA insurance mandate has to be argued as a state's prerogative because states do mandate private vendor purchases, easily illustrated in "Romneycare" as one example. That and the generally weak commerce clause argument will make "Obamacare" difficult to overturn while keeping a straight judicial face, so to speak.

Excellent, Maureen. Sex is definitely necessary for procreation, but not all sexual activity does or should result in pregnancy. You'd think with all the practical benefits of contraception including cost-effectiveness, and preventing young women from having their first children while in their teens, Republicans who insist they carry the torch of fiscal responsibility, would be for it. I guess it makes too much sense to them to keep accidents from causing people.

Paul - I understand. What I'm saying is that Santorum, rightly or wrongly, questions that legal decision in a philosophical sense. Others do to. I'm saying that that is what he is talking about. (And I'm not saying, by the way, that he is correct.) I am trying to clarify that he is not talking about outlawing birth control. That's all I'm saying. Believing him or not is up to each person of course.
Yes, Paul, I do understand that the Conn. case is a basis for Roe v. Wade and I understand that people have, again rightly or wrongly, philosophical and/or legal reasons to question both decisions. I'm saying that that is what Santorum is doing. And, as mentioned before, there are actually some legal "minds" that have raised the same issues. Again, I'm not saying I think as either side does, but I'm just trying to clarify about Santorum. That's all.

Night back at yah. (I mean that in a nice way, so don't read anything into it!)
Paul - a right is NOT a consequence of a law. Lets take your own example. Driving is NOT a right. Do some research.
It is a privilege.
So instead of debating the legal term of Right, lets look at this practically. As of now ,women already have the right , so to speak to birth control. With the exception of a rogue doctor any woman can get it as long as there is not a good reason not to get it. So want new right has Obmacare created? It has simply defined a cost.
All I see is an insurance company MUST cover something for the privilege of being in business. And, by force of law, a woman (all of us) MUST buy the insurance. So I guess you call it a right because after you buy the mandated insurance your cost will be little or nothing. If that is what you call a right, then call it that.
What you really mean is a right for it to be free. And nothing is free is it? Someone has to pay.
S0 the only win here is that the cost be transferred from the individual to the collective.

We the people don't want to exempt the church on a minor point of Obamacare. Good.
What about the rights of the women that work for all the employers that Obama has totally exempted from Obamacare?
Where is the "We the People" for those women.

As I said before, this supposed moral issue about birth control is just the first round. Wait until it comes down to pure economics what is covered and not and then tell me if you have a right to anything. Let me know how it feels like a right to you when the doc/insurance has been given the right to deny you. And instead of taking potential action against your insurer you can fight with the gov about it. That will be fun. I can tell you first hand you would be better off fighting a private concern for a denial of any right or obligation, than fighting the very gov that granted you the right you thought you had.
"Just don't make ME pay for YOUR birth control."

Can you explain just how you will be paying for my bc? I receive health insurance as part of my pay / benefits package. If I stop working, no health insurance. If you stop working, I still receive health insurance. When are you paying for my insurance?
Paul - neither of us are SCOTUS judges, but what I call a right does not come with qualifications. The ruling you site says driving is more than a mere privilege, which implies to me that qualifications have to be reasonable. But still you must qualify.

Free speech requires no qualification. It , like driving has restrictions. You cannot yell "Fire" in a theater and you cannot speed. Those are both restrictions.
I cannot think of a qualification of free speech.

In any case I would like to see a similar ruling referring to SS. Can you think of any reason that it would be found unconstitutional if congress simply did away with SS? Or raised the qualifications to extremes.

I think you make a much solid case for a DL being a right than SS. Reading the ruling you posted, it would seem that clearly a state could not simply deny everybody the ability to drive.
Dante13 - If I understand it right, you better not quit working because the mandate requires you to be insured. You cannot NOT be insured, work or not. Neither can I.
Everything that can be done should be to control the overgrowth of the world's population. Many experts agree that the 7 billion already on the planet are a challenge to sustain and it will only get worse.
The irony of all of this is that the more conservative the state, the more federal aid they take and the more federal taxes they eat. As well, the majority of red states have higher incidents of teen pregnancy and other "crimes" that freak out the conservative right. In the meantime, in the less conservative states, most likely because frank discussions about sexuality occur more often, and because birth control is utilized more quickly, teen pregnancies are lower and self-sufficiency is more likely.

The statistics are very, very, very interesting in this regard. They suggest that the less we help each other, the poorer we become as a country. The less we discuss issues openly and the more we repress them, the worse the behavior/situation becomes.

Obviously, the South starts off at an economic disadvantage, but some of those other red states, not so much. It's just really interesting how it all falls out. The statistics from red Arizona are my favorite. Those retirees do like their Medicare and Medicaid, all the while complaining about "entitlement" programs. Ah, the hypocritical sounds of nitwits ... so incredible that they can look themselves in the mirror.
Barbara--Don't make me pay for your Bush war, and we'll call it a day.

Oh wait ... yeah ... we can't do that. Sorry, oh citizen of the United States, it can't all be about you and your opinions. You have to think of other people besides yourself and try to live in a country with people who aren't a carbon copy of you. (And thank goodness they aren't. You're a bit of a douche.)

Try to wrap your selfish stupidity around that idea. I know. It will be too hard.

I'll assume you'll be having this same conversation about Viagra then. Since it's COVERED.
It would be nice if a distinction were made between varieties of birth control. Anyone loony enough to protest against pre-fertilization birth control deserves the political fate that will shortly be visited upon Santorum. Good riddance to him.

On the other hand, more rational politicians who would be so bold as to ask women to exercise a modicum of care with conception and a modicum of responsibility with the life-giving consequences thereof well deserve the political victories they will shortly enjoy.
A legal right is a consequence of law. The big hint there is the "law" word. Driving can be explained as a Natural Right in the context of constitutional law, but it's also a legal right that occurs when one becomes licensed to drive. The hint in the AJCL quote above is "under normal conditions."

If Congress ended Social Security, then one would no longer have a legal right to Social Security.

If you can't understand that explanation, which cannot be further reduced, then nothing I can say will help.

Or were you and Cat shooting for "2 wrongs make us right?"
"Is that a sin, Santorum?" You. Are. Awesome.

If this a country of equality, then why aren't we legislating men's sexual and reproductive health? Mandatory vasectomies for all! No sperm = no fertilized egg = no abortion. Gasp! How dare I!
Maureen asked, "Many married men I know signed up for vasectomies rather than risk adding one more babe to their brood. Is that a sin, Santorum?"

I would imagine that Santorum would say, "Yes, it is." As a Catholic, either a woman getting her "tubes tied" or an man getting a vasectomy is a sin. It's one reason why if someone wants either procedure, he or she must avoid a Catholic hospital.
where does george carlin's comment, "the women that are against abortions you wouldn't want to fuck anyway" fall in this debate? or is what he used to say so wrong on so many levels? or is it that even though we know he was making a joke, there's some truth in it? or is it because it was george carlin it's ok?
Paul - you miss my main point. Which is that it seems many people think that they don't fully have their rights until the activity is not only allowed but it is funded and/or supported.
I swear I think some people want me to move their mouth for them before they feel they have a right to speak. Or buy them a pen and paper before they can fully exercise their right to write. And since we are in the computer age get them one of those new 4G iPads.

From this discussion one would think that women do not have a right to birth control prior to Obamacare. But they already do don't they?
So lets just be clear, now they have a right to get it free.

Since driving is a right, which I will concede that point, maybe we should have a public outrage that you actually have to pay a fee for it. Or for that matter give people cars. How can they drove without a car? It is their right is it not?
Driving is a privilege. Which is why, if you do it badly often enough, they take away your license. You need a better example.

Health care should be considered a right because pretty much 99% of the population are going to get sick at some point. Birth control pills are both legal and a prescription drug. They are used to prevent pregnancy, help with ovarian cyst problems and other disorders in that area, with women who suffer from tremendously painful periods, for women near the beginning or near the end of their period 'life' for regulation of the period and for relief from overly heavy periods (which can be heavy enough to cause anemia in a few cases) and for relief from perimenopausal symptoms.

Birth control pills are expensive, and unless you want a baby or don't have any of the above-mentioned issues, you have to get them. If viagra is covered, AND IT IS, then a drug that actually does more than make a man get an erection should also be covered.

This is about regulating a woman's sex life and/or a judgmental and rather stupid decision about women and sex. It's 2012, and there are a group of people who still live somewhere in the year 1950 or even earlier.
I have read almost every post/comment and was surprised to see the one specific point not made is this... The Catholic Church self-insures, meaning we are not talking about having BlueCross offer BC to the Church employees "around" the Church. The Obama Adminstration knows this and still offered their "compromise". This is a Religious Freedom issue. The mandate is not forcing some nebulous insurance companies to offer this coverage (that exists already if you are willing to pay for it), this mandate is forcing a Religious group(s) to engage in (accept) activities that violate their basic beliefs.

What those of you who support this administrations position are saying is, we support "our" moral position (because we are so smart) but not the moral positions of others. This is the ultimate hypocracy of the Personal Morality crowd, you agree with anyone who accepts/agrees with you, anyone who disagrees is mentally ill aka wrong. Mental illness is implied because you are so smart and worldly that anyone who doesn't see things your way must be mentally ill or evil, because they are "violating your basic human rights"!
Sensei Mitch. Thank YOU!

And the silly person who talked about "my" Bush war. You have no idea what I thought about of the "Bush" wars (continued by Mr. Obama I may add) and get yourself a copy of the US Constitution. Read it. National Defense (and whether Afghanistan or Iraq is/was is a separate issue) IS at least something the federal government is mandated to ensure. Free birth control is not.

BTW, Hello, hello???? Most of your Democratic politicians DID vote in FAVOUR of both of these "efforts". Not that facts should trip you up.
To Toritto: To say that a mandate on health care coverage of women’s reproductive systems is an imposition of personal opinion on a discriminated group is both a wild generalization and a complete misunderstanding of what human rights are. Health care has always been accepted as a basic human right, and as such, is provided as part of the benefits of employment. There are two pillars of this idea. One is that one works for the benefits they receive from their employers. So to say it is forcing others to pay for a lifestyle is an outrageous accusation as the employees seeking such coverage are actually for such benefits just as they would work for their income. Secondly, sexual health is not exactly a choice. Reproductive health is an extremely important part of human existence, and in fact is accepted as a basic need. Thus sexual health, like all other health, should be covered.
Now one may say that contraception isn’t being banned; it’s available as long as you would be willing to pay for it. This argument still doesn’t hold much to light as contraception is still a form of health control. Welfare of human bodies is regulated by this medicine, as contraception helps protect from not only from unwanted pregnancies, but from STDs and the control of the menstrual cycle. This is an extremely important part of woman’s health and since it regulates the welfare of a body, it must be covered by what the employee works for.
To Toritto: To say that a mandate on health care coverage of women’s reproductive systems is an imposition of personal opinion on a discriminated group is both a wild generalization and a complete misunderstanding of what human rights are. Health care has always been accepted as a basic human right, and as such, is provided as part of the benefits of employment. There are two pillars of this idea. One is that one works for the benefits they receive from their employers. So to say it is forcing others to pay for a lifestyle is an outrageous accusation as the employees seeking such coverage are actually for such benefits just as they would work for their income. Secondly, sexual health is not exactly a choice. Reproductive health is an extremely important part of human existence, and in fact is accepted as a basic need. Thus sexual health, like all other health, should be covered.
Now one may say that contraception isn’t being banned; it’s available as long as you would be willing to pay for it. This argument still doesn’t hold much to light as contraception is still a form of health control. Welfare of human bodies is regulated by this medicine, as contraception helps protect from not only from unwanted pregnancies, but from STDs and the control of the menstrual cycle. This is an extremely important part of woman’s health and since it regulates the welfare of a body, it must be covered by what the employee works for.