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Posted on Tue, Mar 20, 2012 : 8:36 a.m.

People don't have a right to have contraception covered by health insurance

By Guest Column

Editor's note: The word tenets has been corrected in the lead paragraph.

The recent ruckus over mandating coverage for contraception in private health insurance plans contrasts two worldviews, only one of which -- the Republicans’ -- accords with bedrock tenets of American political philosophy. As loony as contra-contraception may be, the defense of people’s freedom to be loony is as American as it gets.

Characterizing the issue as one of religious freedom, however, is a distraction. The freedom to follow the dictates of one’s conscience is not limited to moral reservations that derive from religion. Americans just enjoy the right to be left alone. It’s not absolute, of course, but to the greatest extent practicable we respect the right of individuals to be guided by their own inner voices.

In this case, the inconvenience created by an employer’s decision not to furnish the wherewithal to prevent conception does not rise to a level that justifies overriding this freedom. Contraception is readily available and not expensive. Of course, it is not the inconvenience of it that has people incensed; it is the implication that others are judging them.


Pavel Chernobrivets |

Let’s take it a step further. Suppose an employer felt so strongly about it that he made it a condition of employment that contraception not be practiced. Even this is not active interference in the lives of his employees. In America, relationships among people are voluntary. Unless people can agree on the terms of a relationship, there is none. I know people who would quit their jobs -- and would be free to -- if their employers took on work for the Department of Defense. Except when bound in a relationship by a contract, anyone can stipulate his deal-breakers.

At this point, some will assert that a right to be left alone does not permit one to deny others the fundamental right to healthcare. That argument is hopelessly incoherent. An assertion could not be more at odds with American political principles. The distinction between “you may not have this” and “I will not give this to you” is bedrock in America. No individual may utter the first, but every individual may declare the second.

People’s fanciful use of the word “deny,” as above, connotes a belief that America is different from what it is. People wish, along with Franklin Roosevelt, that America had a “Second Bill of Rights,” a platform of “positive rights,” to healthcare and such. They want us to be a nation dedicated to equality, like Europe.

But the Bill of Rights we actually have embodies only “negative rights.” It is a recitation of things that the government will not do to you, a listing of the various ways in which you are entitled to expect that you will be left alone. We are a nation not of equality but of individual liberty.

For illustration of the difference between negative and positive rights, consider the Second Amendment. Even if the Second Amendment protects an individual’s right to own a firearm (I say, if it does) it doesn’t commit the government or my employer to giving me a gun if I don’t have one. Or take the First Amendment’s guarantee of freedom of speech. The only thing it guarantees is that the government will not visit consequences upon you for things you say or publish; in no way does it compel anyone to provide you with a soap box or bullhorn or printing press.

I get email from the Democratic National Committee charging that Republicans want to deny women access to healthcare! I guess there is no law against demagoguery in politics. I assume that these communications are disingenuous, that the DNC knows the difference between refusing to abet what others do and actually denying them things, but maybe they don’t. I suppose it is possible to mistake as American ideals principles that are actually inimical to American ideals.

The degree to which people can misapprehend basic principles of freedom is quite scary. I once heard a president of NOW say that nurses and doctors who could not get onboard with society’s settled belief that abortion is morally unobjectionable should find other careers or have their licenses pulled. No one has a “right to be a nurse,” she said. This new world in which everything that is not prohibited is compulsory will not be America.

Will Warner lives in Lodi Township. He can be reached at



Sun, Mar 25, 2012 : 2:22 a.m.

The only ones that win with free birth control pills are the drug makers, everyone else ends up paying for them with higher health care insurance premiums.


Wed, Mar 21, 2012 : 5:33 p.m.

Will One thing you may not understand is that many women take birth control pills (and other forms of birth control meds) for medical issues unrelated to contraception. I am high risk for ovarian cancer and take it as a preventative, many other women take it to regulate their cycles, to treat endometriosis...etc. If women were not covered for birth control, they would be denied best options for their medical needs. No offense, but if men had periods every month with cramps, bleeding, bloating and the possibility of getting pregnant each time they had sex, birth control pill coverage would not be questioned....


Wed, Mar 21, 2012 : 5:56 p.m.

Can you please explain how a woman is denied birth control, when they can get a prescription from a doctor and go to any pharmacy and get it? Plus, there are many community organizations where a woman can get birth control pills from at low cost and even free? How is one denied their birth control if they have a prescription?

Jim Walker

Wed, Mar 21, 2012 : 12:50 p.m.

Insurers would prefer to cover contraception and related coverage, it is a LOT less expensive than prenatal care and adding a child to a family policy. Jim Walker, Ann Arbor


Wed, Mar 21, 2012 : 2:10 p.m.

Jim, While it is true that insurers would prefer to cover contraception because it is a lot less expensive than covering pregnancies/prenatal care, etc. But to add birth control to the policy costs money (higher premiums). So why should the government demand that this be covered for FREE? In the end we end up paying higher premiums AND subsidizing it with taxpayer money starting in 2014. A double whammy.


Wed, Mar 21, 2012 : 1:55 a.m.

This is why we need a government, single payer system. Religious fanatics shouldn't be allowed to make these decisions. The GOP will simply fade away as the promote ever more fringe positions. This would be a good thing, no more GOP.


Tue, Mar 20, 2012 : 8:13 p.m.

This essay seems to expend a lot of energy to attack a straw man. It presents the argument that the writer WISHES his opponents were making (everyone has a "right" to be provided with whatever health care coverage they deem necessary) and then chops it down. It would have been more illuminating if the writer had taken the argument that his opponents are ACTUALLY making (that the government is within its rights to require female contraception coverage in health insurance policies because it serves the causes of both public health and non-discrimination) and addressed that.


Sun, Mar 25, 2012 : 3:06 a.m.

If this were to also cover male contraception then it would be non discriminatory, since it only covers birth control pills for women it is discrimination. With the pills some women might be more inclined to cheat on their spouse and get a STD because they are not worried about getting pregnant, then they pass that STD on to their spouse. Men won't know for 100% sure if a woman has been taking her pills properly and might assume they are when the woman has stopped taking them and she ends up pregnant, then he pays for it for 18 years. The pills are not perfect but some will think they are and not use other protection and that will lead to other problems.


Tue, Mar 20, 2012 : 8:43 p.m.

Bravo sir...


Tue, Mar 20, 2012 : 5:03 p.m.

Should Christian Scientists who employ people outside of direct Church activities be able to give their employees insurance coverage that only covers prayer?

Will Warner

Tue, Mar 20, 2012 : 5:16 p.m.

If they can arrange for such coverage through private contract, sure. I won't.

Martin Church

Tue, Mar 20, 2012 : 5:02 p.m.

Since when did creating life become a medical disorder that needs to be terminated and prevented like cancer. Two people come together and agree to behave in a manor that the consequences results in the creation of another being. this is the purpose of the act in which they engaged. Cancer is something that is forced upon a person ether by the environment, actions they take or genetics. What the HHS rule is mandates you surrender your first amendment right to practice your faith according to your conscience. if this opinion of the President's council stands then they can come in and tell you what your belief system will be. this is similar to what Rome did in 70 AD when they tore Judea and the temple of God done during the Jewish revolt. Romes action lead to the Jewish revolt.


Tue, Mar 20, 2012 : 6:38 p.m.

No bill is forcing people to use contraceptives. And no one has said it's a disorder to be pregnant. And the argument that sex is ONLY for conception is not only ancient but laughable. That would leave people having sex only when they wanted to have children. And only the minor few want a child every year.


Tue, Mar 20, 2012 : 4:33 p.m.

:facepalm: "Sensationalist Media" Usually I laugh at that term, but this article is just that. It's sole purpose is to create more debate, and more readership. Also, know the employers aren't the ones giving them the contraceptives. The employers pay the Insurance company to provide insurance. If people then want contraceptives, they should be allowed to have them, not told "No, you cannot have this because I say so." *cough* abortion *cough* Or here's an easy solution: free contraceptives for everyone. What with the billions of dollars devoted to womens health I'd think that such a program would be easy to create. Because after all it's generally not Men's health that were talking about on this issue. Men are just told "go buy a condom."


Tue, Mar 20, 2012 : 3:52 p.m.

The government already sets minimum standards for things that affect public health. Think building codes and restaurant inspections. How would this be different from that -- just setting a minimum standard to ensure public health and safety?


Tue, Mar 20, 2012 : 6:59 p.m.

The government also sets standards for "discrimination." Laws forbid the firing of someone or the refusal to serve someone because of their sex or the color of their skin. For any insurer that provides comprehensive male reproductive health coverage (Viagra, vasectomies, prostate cancer screenings and treatments) but doesn't provide similarly comprehensive female reproductive health coverage, wouldn't that amount to sexual discrimination that the government can prohibit?

Will Warner

Tue, Mar 20, 2012 : 6:43 p.m.

This is actually a good point. Your could make a public-heath case here. Note, however, how this is a different formulation of issue -- different from the "rights" and "discrimination" view of it.


Tue, Mar 20, 2012 : 3:50 p.m.

Here's a far better take on this subject:


Tue, Mar 20, 2012 : 3:37 p.m.

Do these same discriminatory health values apply to men being prescribed Viagra?


Tue, Mar 20, 2012 : 3:24 p.m.

Birth control of any sort isn't inexpensive. The Pill alone can run $20-50 a month depending. And that DOES eat into a woman's budget. But what gauls me is that this is a PRESCRIPTION that isn't covered due to religious beliefs. Birth control, other than condoms, isn't OTC. What other drugs are not covered due to religious beliefs? If there was a long list,which I've not seen nor heard anyone speak of, I'd like to know if it includes drugs to save lives-because if the Church wants to argue that birth control prevents a life that God wants to make, why then support drugs that saves a life God might just want to take. Does it include Viagra-because if God took away a man's ability to have an erection then why should the man question it? If there were other drugs that companies or the Catholic Church opposed, then I would understand the birth control argument, although still not agree. But this is the one type of script-be it the Patch or Pill or diaphram, etc.-that only affects women. So, therefore, women are being singled out and excluded from having a script covered and are forced to pay high out of pocket costs for a monthly script. There are many drugs that are horribly expensive that insurance may only partially cover. I understand that Plavix, for example, at approx. $8 per pill, isn't always or fully covered by insurance for whatever reason. And often insurance won't cover new or unproven drugs or drugs that are expensive to buy from the pharmacy company when there's a cheaper alternative (be it generic or other.) But those exclusions affect both sexes equally.


Tue, Mar 20, 2012 : 3:19 p.m.

Contraception is used for a variety of medical reasons other than as a form of birth control. I find the argument that women should be denied a form of medical coverage plainly discriminatory. If your argument were to hold any salt your rationale would also allow employers to deny men the right to obtain a prescription for Viagra or any number of male erectile enhancing drugs, obtain a vasectomy or other surgical procedure designed to prevent pregnancy. Of course maybe for the male elite in Washington who started this assault on women they could not bare the thought of going without their male enhancing drugs because having a limp member was too much to bare.


Wed, Mar 21, 2012 : 2:19 p.m.

@Chris, Although you are correct that contraception is used for a variety of medical reasons, however the FDA has approved it for "birth control." Therefore, insurance companies can't cover a medicine for something it is NOT approved for by the FDA. Now with that said, most employers do NOT cover viagra and birth control due to costs (higher premiums) and it is considered "lifestyle drugs." Employers do not have to offer health insurance. So why is the federal government mandating FREE birth control when employers don't even have to offer health insurance to begin with? Don't you think the federal government is overstepping here?


Tue, Mar 20, 2012 : 3:15 p.m.

Maallen - Yes, I would pay for your condoms, if they were sold in the pharmacy and you need a perscription from your provider. Since that is not the case, then no.


Tue, Mar 20, 2012 : 4:48 p.m.

Emily, Women can get their birth control pills for free or very cheaply from Planned Parenthood and other community organizations. It shouldn't be mandated by the federal government to be provided for free. And why should it matter if there is a prescription involved for condoms? As long as I have proof that I paid for the condoms, then the taxpayers should reimburse me for my purchase.


Tue, Mar 20, 2012 : 3:05 p.m.

So, Obama wants the taxpayers to pick up the tab on birth control for women. Why are we stopping there? I feel it is very sexist to cover ONLY women's birth control. The taxpayer should be paying for my box of condoms too!


Wed, Mar 21, 2012 : 6:04 p.m.

Yes, I understand that people should take on personal responsibility instead of having a government mandate a benefit to be offered for free. Women are not being denied birth control. They can get a prescription and get it. Plus, if they don't want to pay for it at full cost, there are many community organizations that will give it to them at little or no cost.


Wed, Mar 21, 2012 : 5:08 p.m.

I understand that I'd personally rather help pay for BC now rather than sponsor a child for 18 years. Then you throw in over population, global warming, unemployement, medicaid, and so on. Not to mention listening to all the blowhards that complain about footing the bill for NOT using BC. Yep...I understand crystal clear. How 'bout you?


Wed, Mar 21, 2012 : 2:04 p.m.

@shutthefrtdoor, I do get it and I understand what "The Affordable Care Act" also affectionately known as "ObamaCare" entails. This isn't just about employer's health insurance, but it is also about individuals health insurance. Birth Control is being MANDATED to be offered for FREE. The premiums will go up. Someone has to pay for it, right? So, in 2014 when the individual mandate goes into effect, the government will subsidize those premiums from 50% to 75%. Meaning us taxpayers will be funding it. And it is projected that up to 30% of the employers will drop their health insurance coverage because it will save them a lot of money if the employees got the insurance on their own. So, because of this FREE birth control mandate, we are going to be paying for it twice. One, in higher premiums, and two in taxpayer subsidies for individuals to get health insurance. Now do you understand?


Tue, Mar 20, 2012 : 6:25 p.m.

clownfish...he just flat out don't get it! @maallen...I'll buy you a box of condoms if you would just stop ranting about it...jeesh!


Tue, Mar 20, 2012 : 4:56 p.m.

This is not about taxpayers paying. It is about what should be covered by private insurance.


Tue, Mar 20, 2012 : 4:50 p.m.

Evalyn, Why does it matter if the pill is over the counter or not? Or if the condoms are over the counter or not? Like birth controls, condoms can be very expensive. Whether something is over the counter or not makes no difference.

Evalyn Yanna

Tue, Mar 20, 2012 : 3:14 p.m.

Maybe if the pill was over the counter that argument would work!

Jake C

Tue, Mar 20, 2012 : 3:01 p.m.

It seems that some people have different viewpoints about what the words "deny" or "force" mean. Will claims that no one is actively being denied contraception (or any other medical care, for that matter). It's just a matter of whether they can afford it. It's not much different from saying that during the Poll Tax era, no one was "denied" the right to vote (which isn't a Right enumerated in the Constitution) all they had to do was pay a voting fee, the same as everyone else. And if some people couldn't (or didn't want to) pay the fee to vote because they weren't a wealthy landowner, well that was their own personal choice. Right?

Will Warner

Tue, Mar 20, 2012 : 3:16 p.m.

Not exactly. In the second senario you're talking about relations with the goverment, the terms of which are set by the will of the people. The first senario involves a private relationship, in which, to the greatest extent practicably, the will of the people has no role.


Tue, Mar 20, 2012 : 2:59 p.m.

Thank you so much for this well written piece. It is the same argument I have been having with a couple other people since this became the "hot topic". Responses to your opinion just show that people either don't understand the founding principles of our Nation or don't think it does or should apply to their lives. The understanding and view of the Constitution is just another decisive topic. Aside from all the things that the writers could have forseen happening 200 years into the future it, to me really has stood up to be one of historys perfect written documents. But thank you for writing a non religious point of argument.


Wed, Mar 21, 2012 : 12:16 p.m.



Tue, Mar 20, 2012 : 6:22 p.m.

Did it ever cross your mind that maybe the views expressed in this op-ed are contrary to the general populations views? If you need an unscientific poll...just tally up the +/- in the posts.


Tue, Mar 20, 2012 : 2:57 p.m.

"Suppose an employer felt so strongly about it that he made it a condition of employment that contraception not be practiced. Even this is not active interference in the lives of his employees." Of course it is! Will Mr. Warner please explain how said employer would go about verifying that his employees are indeed conforming to this "condition of employment"?

Will Warner

Tue, Mar 20, 2012 : 3:05 p.m.

Who says he has to verify it? Maybe he is content to just make the stipulation.

rusty shackelford

Tue, Mar 20, 2012 : 2:48 p.m.

You don't see anyone saying we shouldn't pay for anti-cholesterol or anti-obesity drugs, even though by far the major factor in these health issues is personal choice. Of course, that might be a bit too on the nose for the GOP base. Family planning has long been a facet of public health and the pill can be prescribed for other health issues as well. This is just the typical right wing ploy that comes up every presidential election. Some specious "cultural" issue to rally the rabble and make them forget how bad the GOP is for them.

Will Warner

Tue, Mar 20, 2012 : 2:44 p.m.

a2MiGuy writes "And now the author comes out with some abstract thing called 'American political principles.' POLITICAL principles? There's no such thing. This is purely the author's attempt at telling everyone how to think, and disguising it by attaching the word "American" to it." I claim that America was founded on certain political principles, and that the upshot is that we can speak of "American political thought." I claim that the distinction between "you may not have this" and "I will not give this to you" is part of that thought. Do you disagree? I claim that a basic right to be left alone (by the government) to follow one's own conscience is part of that thought. It's not absolute, but to the greatest extent practicable we respect the right of individuals to be guided by their own inner voices. I claim that "relationships among people are voluntary" is part of that thought. Unless people can agree on the terms of a relationship, there is none. a2MiGuy writes that liberty and equality are not mutually exclusive. But when we start talking specifics we find that they are in conflict; to get more of one you will get less of the other. America was founded as a bastion of individual liberty and I want to keep it that way.


Tue, Mar 20, 2012 : 6:19 p.m.

I call hogwash Landes.

Stephen Landes

Tue, Mar 20, 2012 : 3 p.m.

WIll, I agree with your opinion piece and completely understand why so many commenting here do not. These people have grown up with an increasingly all-powerful Federal government dedicated to giving things to people to buy their vote: it's no wonder that they cannot see that they are exchanging personal liberty for "things". It is unlikely that we will be able to persuasively argue in support of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution with government dependents.


Tue, Mar 20, 2012 : 2:33 p.m.

Any requirement added to health care insurance raises the cost of the insurance. The bigger debate should be on what health care insurance should and should not cover or better yet, what each tier of health care insurance should cover. If we keep adding benefits (like Viagra) to insurance, the costs will continue to climb and more and more people will not be able to afford it. Birth Control is a preventative, like flu shots, it reduces the cost over time of health care for people who use it, just a flu shots do (no I am not equating birth control and flu shots - only trying to draw a simple parallel). Insurance companies are pushing to add preventatives to insurance and drop deductibles because it lowers the average cost of health care. On a pure economics basis, birth control makes much more sense to add to health care insurance than Viagra does, but no one is working to remove Viagra from health care insurance. From a religious basis, I can understand the desire to not have to pay for things that the religion says is wrong. But I know a large number of people whose religion says pork is wrong, but they go to buffets anyway and ignore the pork dishes. All in all, if you look at it from an economics standpoint or a practical standpoint, the debate makes no sense at all.


Tue, Mar 20, 2012 : 6:17 p.m.

@ bunny... What pray tell does taking birth control pills have to do with ending human life? Pills STOP pregnancy before insemination doesn't it?


Tue, Mar 20, 2012 : 3:12 p.m.

please don't equate not eating pork dishes at a buffet to ending a human life.


Tue, Mar 20, 2012 : 3:12 p.m.

@Peter, Yes, insurance companies like to cover birth control pills because it is cheaper. However, the employer/employee pays a higher premium for that coverage. The government should not be stepping in to MANDATE that this benefit to be covered at no cost. Why is it that the taxpayer has to fund this? Why are we stopping at birth control pills? Why aren't the taxpayers paying to have condoms be covered at no cost?


Tue, Mar 20, 2012 : 3:02 p.m.

Health insurance companies love to cover birth control - it's WAY cheaper than covering pregnancies.

Veggie Burrito

Tue, Mar 20, 2012 : 2:25 p.m.

Apparently another bedrock tenet of American political philosophy is not seeing the hypocrisy in private insurance plans covering boner pills but not contraception.


Wed, Mar 21, 2012 : 6:09 p.m.

Please show me how autism equates to birth control? Birth control was approved by the FDA to keep a woman from getting pregnant. Autism is a medical condition that many carriers already covered. Are you sure you want to equate Autism with birth control? Really?


Wed, Mar 21, 2012 : 5:01 p.m.

Maallen...are you now referring to the Repubicans mandating Autism coverage? It goes both ways pal...


Wed, Mar 21, 2012 : 1:49 p.m.

Let me rephrase, MOST employers do not cover Viagra because it is considered a lifestyle drug, along with birth control. Most employers are trying to cut costs, health insurance premiums, therefore they eliminate the lifestyle drugs like viagra and birth control to save on premiums. ObamaCare was enacted to help reduce health insurance premiums, but so far everything that the government has done (like mandating free birth control) has done nothing to reduce those premiums, but only been driving those premiums UP. Now, it goes back to the old age question, why is the government telling employers what they can and can't cover? The employers are offering health insurance to their employees (the employers don't have to, but they do to attract employees) so what gives the government the right to mandate things, like FREE birth control, when an employer doesn't even have to offer health insurance?


Tue, Mar 20, 2012 : 6:14 p.m.

Veggie...this dude maallen is stuck on a different conversation...or something. I don't know but something isn't jivin'. Good post

Veggie Burrito

Tue, Mar 20, 2012 : 3:10 p.m.

Let me Google that for you, @maallen: Yes, Catholic group health plans do cover Viagra.

West of Main

Tue, Mar 20, 2012 : 3:01 p.m.

Your post will be censored in 3, 2, 1...


Tue, Mar 20, 2012 : 2:55 p.m.

They don't cover Viagra and the like.

Evalyn Yanna

Tue, Mar 20, 2012 : 2:25 p.m.

But they are still willing to pay for Viagra, right? Which one actually has more medical benefits??


Wed, Mar 21, 2012 : 1:45 p.m.

Most employers do not cover Viagra because it is considered a lifestyle drug, along with birth control. Most employers are trying to cut costs, health insurance premiums, therefore they eliminate the lifestyle drugs like viagra and birth control to save on premiums. ObamaCare was enacted to help reduce health insurance premiums, but so far everything that the government has done (like mandating free birth control) has done nothing to reduce those premiums, but only been driving those premiums UP.


Tue, Mar 20, 2012 : 6:12 p.m.

@ Maallen...what? yes they do. We are talking about EMPLOYER sponsored health care. It appears you are stuck on national health care.


Tue, Mar 20, 2012 : 3:01 p.m.

They should cover viagra. Sexual health is important to physical and mental health. It should be up to a doctor to decide, not an insurance company actuary, and not a legislator.


Tue, Mar 20, 2012 : 2:58 p.m.

They don't cover viagra


Tue, Mar 20, 2012 : 2:38 p.m.

not all are willing to pay for viagra...


Tue, Mar 20, 2012 : 2:19 p.m.

"They want us to be a nation dedicated to equality" - like Europe! Oh Will you are so fanicfull! Ya got yer "positive rights" and your "negative rights", I forget which one is the employers' right to deny a healthcare service that is just for women? Oh I just used "deny" in a fanciful way... Tell you what, to even things out, let's allow employers to deny coverage to men for testicular cancer, you know, "nut" cancer? Lot of that going around lately.


Tue, Mar 20, 2012 : 2:08 p.m.

This piece is as convoluted as just about anything I've ever read in my life. The author continually cites "American ideals" like many Christians cite the Bible... i.e., their own narrow version of things, and everyone else's interpretation be damned. And now the author comes out with some abstract thing called "American political principles." POLITICAL principles? There's no such thing. This is purely the author's attempt at telling everyone how to think, and disguising it by attaching the word "American" to it. "They want us to be a nation dedicated to equality, like Europe." You're darn right I do. "We are a nation not of equality but of individual liberty." The two are not mutually exclusive. Maybe if the yahoos in charge of our "American political principles" realized that we SHOULD be a nation of equality, we'd get somewhere.


Wed, Mar 21, 2012 : 12:29 p.m.

Please give me 40% of your income (for taxes)....equality comes at a price.


Tue, Mar 20, 2012 : 1:51 p.m.

When we start discriminating on coverage...we open pandora's box. And...the biggest problem I have with the Repubican tenet is that historically they are the ones against abortion and welfare. How do we remedy those two things? Birth Control! And before anyone starts preaching abstinence and chastity...get real would ya!

Will Warner

Tue, Mar 20, 2012 : 1:36 p.m.

@Peter: "Will, do you not think that birth control is medical care? If not, why not? And if so, what is the reasoning that it should be okay to deny a specific kind of medical care to a specific group (women) that has also been denied a lot of other things by the other group (men)?" I do think the help with contraception is health care. But I you re-read my column, you will see that you are using the word "deny" fancifully. In the scenarios I present, no one is "denied" anything. @SAM:" Let's leave women alone, in accordance with the ideal described above: let's stop forcing unwanted pregnancies on them." Sam, you are using the word "force" fancifully. No one is using force. People are just setting the terms of a relationship.

Basic Bob

Tue, Mar 20, 2012 : 3:13 p.m.

@Peter, I have private health insurance because I am self-employed. This plan does not cover anything related to reproduction or reproductive organs, male or female. We pay out of our own pocket for whatever my family members and their doctors agree is appropriate, regardless of cost. Is it free? No. Would you conclude that my insurance company has a moral agenda to restrict access to birth control? I don't.

Will Warner

Tue, Mar 20, 2012 : 2:58 p.m.

Peter, nobody is dictating. People are just stating their terms of the relationship.


Tue, Mar 20, 2012 : 2:54 p.m.

And you know, you haven't exactly explained a valid reason for an employer to dictate an employees health care, as opposed to their physician. "I think women are inferior because the church told me so" isn't a valid reason.


Tue, Mar 20, 2012 : 2:52 p.m.

Will, when's the last time you bought some ortho tri-cylcen? Or yaz? Or depo provera? It's not cheap. And an organization not allowing their employees to get it through their health insurance is denying them health care, no matter how hard you wish it isn't.

Sam McDermott

Tue, Mar 20, 2012 : 2:32 p.m.

Thanks again for the reply, and thank you for keeping the tone of you responses civil and consistent. I see contraception as an incredible force for good. As a man, I believe it dramatically levels an otherwise non-level playing field; it ensures women equal opportunities in life and employment; and I believe there is no complimentary health care good that is the equivalent for men. For this reason, I believe it is crucial to make contraception as available as possible to women of all backgrounds. For most women (and men) the primary health care source is the health insurance provided by their employer. Presuming your employer offers you dental insurance: would you go to the dentist as often if you had to pick up a voucher at a government run office (imagine a DMV) before you could have your teeth cleaned? Maybe so, maybe not (depends on your dental hygiene); but we can agree that that would be a silly barrier to put up. For people from dramatically different social backgrounds, that might be a very scary and prohibitive barrier. Finally, it is evident that simply must agree to disagree on the rights and responsibilities of the employer in the contraception scenario. I have more empathy for the women receiving the health care than I do for the employer forced to offer it, and I believe that the female employees' rights to choose individually are more important than the employer's right to choose universally. If you order these two entities oppositely, there is little left to discuss. But in particular, I do not see my stance as being less conducive to the protection of individual liberty. Again, I appreciate the tone in which this exchange has been carried out. I know I have attempted to reel back my language from time to time, and I appreciate that you may have had to do the same. I must get back to work but will endeavor to reply again (probably at less length) if there is more in this that you wish to reply to.

Will Warner

Tue, Mar 20, 2012 : 2:06 p.m.

Sam, I don't question the value of contraception. When you say "contraception should be available to everyone...." I have two responses. First, it IS avaiable to everyone, even to those whose employers choose not to furnish it. Second if you want everyone to be GIVEN contraception, get the goverment to do it; don't force ("force" used correctly here) employers to when they would rather not.

Sam McDermott

Tue, Mar 20, 2012 : 1:50 p.m.

Thank you for your response. However, it is "fanciful" to ignore the fact that the use of contraception has become one the most important and responsible choices a young couple can make. Birth control pills are by far the safest, most available, and cheapest way of preventing an unwanted pregnancy before a committed couple can provide the necessary care for their child. Contraception should be available to everyone, specifically to allow for the greatest range of options when setting the terms of a relationship. Those who object to its use can enjoy their relationship on those terms. Those who wish to avail themselves of it (because they do not want to be pregnant before they can bring up a child responsibly) should be free to make that choice.


Tue, Mar 20, 2012 : 1:47 p.m.

If you think we can separate American political philosophy from religion you should have stopped after the first paragraph: you'd already dug yourself a hole.

Greg M

Tue, Mar 20, 2012 : 1:32 p.m.

I think you're falling short in your argument of freedom of employer versus freedom of employee. The lesson I've learned from all of this is that employers should not directly provide healthcare for their employees. Provide additional salary, a stipend, whatever you want to call it, and let your employees choose the health insurance that best meets their own needs. Of course under the current law/regulations this is nearly impossible - group plans sold to employers have significantly greater protections and benefits than individual plans. My hope is that as these two insurance markets equalize in the coming years more employers will place the healthcare decision in the hands of their employees, where I believe it belongs. (Disclaimer: I say all of this without knowing if there are regulatory, tax or other hurdles that make this difficult.)


Tue, Mar 20, 2012 : 4:49 p.m.

I think this is the most cogent argument made on this page. If an employer offers medical insurance with prescription coverage then they should cover medicine. It is up to the individual to then make the decision to use or not use a particular medicine.


Tue, Mar 20, 2012 : 1:55 p.m.

I think the Health Care Act will fix this in time.

Sam McDermott

Tue, Mar 20, 2012 : 1:15 p.m.

"Americans just enjoy the right to be left alone." I couldn't agree more! The difference between the point of view promulgated in this editorial and the one in this comment is that I believe this applies to women as well as to employers. Mr. Warner, why do you ascribe to employers a conscience, a free will, and an agency that you deny women? Let's leave women alone, in accordance with the ideal described above: let's stop forcing unwanted pregnancies on them. And if on the other hand a woman views contraception to be in conflict with her guiding principles, let's allow her to make the choice not to take it. I see this very much in the context of negative liberty - we should allow women to decide when and how to become pregnant, and should force them to have neither children nor contraception unless they choose otherwise.

Jacob Bodnar

Tue, Mar 20, 2012 : 1:14 p.m.

If you can't afford contraceptives we already have funding and legislation in place for that, it's called Title X - go to a federal clinic, and you can get birth control, Title X included family planning measures and funding. To force private health insurance providers to provide this against their will is unnecessary government intervention. It is only being done by the democrats to drive a political wedge between them and the republicans on this issue to make it seem like there's a "war on women"

Evalyn Yanna

Tue, Mar 20, 2012 : 2:49 p.m.

Title X is for low income or UN-insured people. It can be very hard to get an appt under Title X even if you qualify for that program.

Jake C

Tue, Mar 20, 2012 : 2:46 p.m.

Oh yes, we do have Title X for the time being, a program which House Republicans tried to slash funding for last year, and want to completely eliminate. Is that the one you're talking about?


Tue, Mar 20, 2012 : 2:44 p.m.

Or explain why there are laws mandating the non-consentual insertion of objects into women's vaginas in certain states. Pssst. That's rape. Tom Corbett, governor of Pennsylvania, suggested that if they don't like it, they should just shut their eyes.


Tue, Mar 20, 2012 : 1:27 p.m.

Explain why Planned Parenthood is under attack then.


Tue, Mar 20, 2012 : 1:13 p.m.

This makes as much sense as: People also don't have the right to get cancer care if they smoke and they know that smoking is a cause of cancer.

Elizabeth Smallwood

Wed, Mar 28, 2012 : 6:27 p.m.

Maallen, that is the second time you mentioned "who will be paying for your condoms." I to agree that insurance should cover sexual health, and yes that should include condoms. HOWEVER, condoms are free at planned parenthood. Walk in, grab a handful, and leave. Even birth control is NOT free there for woman. The burden of birth control is always thrust on the women, because it is our body. But when we want the right to choose what to do with it, suddenly it isn't ours anymore. Also, birth control DOES lower pooled health care premiums in a roundabout way...which costs more, birth control or having a baby?


Tue, Mar 20, 2012 : 3:03 p.m.

Emily, Trying to equate birth control to cancer (caused by smoking or not) is disingenuous. No one is telling a woman that she can't have birth control. She can have as many pills she wants. But why does the American taxpayer have to pay for it? Will you be willing to pay for my condoms?


Tue, Mar 20, 2012 : 1:53 p.m.

Yep...good point! Let's dissallow cancer treatment if the private provider say's smoking is against their religion! That's the ticket!


Tue, Mar 20, 2012 : 12:56 p.m.

Bedrock tenants=Fred Flintstone's renters?


Tue, Mar 20, 2012 : 1:16 p.m.

A reference to the "Flintstonian" worldview as espoused by the creationists?


Tue, Mar 20, 2012 : 12:53 p.m.

Will, do you not think that birth control is medical care? If not, why not? And if so, what is the reasoning that it should be okay to deny a specific kind of medical care to a specific group (women) that has also been denied a lot of other things by the the other group (men)?


Wed, Mar 21, 2012 : 11:47 p.m.

I am not asking you to do MY homework, I have already done it. I am asking you to do YOUR homework. You made an accusation that birth control pills drive down the health insurance premiums. I am asking you to show proof to your rhetoric. Or at the very least show my above post to be wrong. Can a woman get a prescription for birth control? Yes. Can a woman go to any pharmacy to get that fulfilled? Yes. Are there community organizations that will supply birth control at no cost or very little cost? Yes. So please tell me how a woman is being denied care? The government shouldn't be mandating a lifestyle drug to be covered for FREE. Pretty soon, the government will be mandating that viagra should be covered for FREE.


Wed, Mar 21, 2012 : 7:05 p.m.

1. I'm not going to do your homework for you. 2. Just because the church told you so doesn't make birth control not health care, even if only women take it, and trying to denying a specific portion of the population (women) health care is wrong.


Wed, Mar 21, 2012 : 6:16 p.m.

Peter, What insurance carrier do you have? I would love to have that insurance carrier so that my premiums will go down. Go ahead and quote the various carriers with birth control coverage AND without birth control coverage. Tell me which has the lower premium, the one with birth control coverage or the one without birth control coverage. Yep, that's right. The one WITHOUT birth control coverage is cheaper. What you fail to realize is, that birth control pills are taken voluntarily. For what it was designed for and approved by the FDA, it is a choice whether a woman takes it or not. Since birth control drugs costs money, someone has to pay for that added cost. And since a woman after getting her birth control can choose NOT to take it anymore and become pregnant, the health insurance carrier has to factor that into the premiums for the possibility of a pregnancy. Birth control pills DO NOT cause premiums to go down. It causes them to go UP.


Wed, Mar 21, 2012 : 4 p.m.

Offering birth control makes premiums go down, not up. The goal of the reactionary right in blocking birth control access is to shame and punish women for having sex. It has nothing to do with freedom or healthcare or fairness, it is purely misogyny, and your arguments are factually incorrect rationalizations for said misogyny.


Wed, Mar 21, 2012 : 1:35 p.m.

@Peter, Ah, now we are getting somewhere: "You and everybody else who pays an insurance premium to your insurance company." You do realize that ObamaCare demands that everyone have health insurance beginning 2014, right? And because of ObamaCare demanding health insurance carriers offer FREE birth control it drives the costs (premiums) up, right? So, part of the ObamaCare law, starting in 2014, individuals/families will get subsidies from the government to pay for their health insurance. Not only will we be paying higher premiums, but we will also be subsidizing health insurance for singles/families. That is a double whammy. So again, why should I have to pay for birth control when women are NOT denied birth control to begin with? They have access to it, They can get it. You keep mistakenly repeaing that women are denied birth control when in fact that is not the case.


Tue, Mar 20, 2012 : 7:09 p.m.

You and everybody else who pays an insurance premium to your insurance company? Somehow you've changed my position from "women shouldn't be denied healthcare" to "women want free healthcare," which is quite disingenuous of you.


Tue, Mar 20, 2012 : 4:57 p.m.

Peter, If the health insurance covers my condoms and is mandated by the government that it should be given to me for FREE. Who pays for it?


Tue, Mar 20, 2012 : 3:03 p.m.

Yes. Health insurance should cover condoms too.


Tue, Mar 20, 2012 : 2:59 p.m.

Peter, Women can have their sexual freedoms all they want, but why do I have to cover their birth control? Will you be willing to pay for my condoms?


Tue, Mar 20, 2012 : 2:27 p.m.

1. Men aren't denied healthcare through legislation because they're men. 2. Two wrongs don't make a right 3. Men being denied care for totally unrelated reasons to this is a non-sensical rebuttal 4. The larger issue at hand is a concerted effort by the reactionary right to shame and punish women for daring the have the same sexual freedoms that men have had for thousands of years.

Basic Bob

Tue, Mar 20, 2012 : 1:32 p.m.

Do you think men are not denied medical care every day? Go to the doctor or hospital without your insurance card and money. See what they say. I have met people who have gone to jail in order to get medical treatment they could not get on probation.


Tue, Mar 20, 2012 : 12:46 p.m.

The government shouldn't be allowed to tell us to do anything. I for one don't want to be drafted into the military, I've got better things to do!