Every few weeks now we seem to get an update in the mainstream media about the assault against women’s health taking place in state legislatures now Republican-dominated because Democrats forgot to vote in 2010.
For example, today’s round-up of state cuts to birth control funding by Reuters titled “States slash birth control subsidies as federal debate rages” presents a sorrowful litany of states curtailing or ending funds for birth control for low-income women and teenagers in Montana, New, Jersey, new Hampshire and Texas. Meanwhile Wisconsin, North Carolina, Tennessee, Indiana and Texas, again, have moved to block Planned Parenthood from receiving funds for family planning because PP performs abortions. We’re talking about more than 300,000 people, primarily poor women and teenagers, who have lost their free or affordable birth control or could lose it within weeks in Texas alone.
These legislators are crazy if they think that the affected women will stop having sex because they can’t afford birth control. No, what will happen is that more women will get abortions, more women will have pregnancies that tax their health or lead to life-threatening conditions and more unwanted children will be born, some of whom will have physical or mental disabilities. And the health care bill in these states will mushroom.
I have a question for the pious and frugal legislators ramming through these new laws that are so destructive to women.
What I would like to know is why all these pious and frugal state legislators are so eager to take birth control away from women, but haven’t said anything about the fact that millions of men get health insurance coverage for erectile dysfunction drugs, such as Viagra, Cialis and Levitra?
Rush Limbaugh is not the only one to wonder why society has to pay for women so they can engage in sexual relations, but none of these arbiters of public morality complain that they are paying so that millions of men across the country can be made physically able for coitus. What equivalent term for “slut” and “prostitute” that Rush would use for the unmarried Viagra users.
Whatever cost argument you make against covering birth control is much more appropriately made against ED drugs. By paying for women’s birth control, we lower healthcare costs, because we reduce unplanned pregnancies and their complications. Paying for ED drugs achieves absolutely no savings in future costs, and so increases the cost of health insurance.
I’m not as sure about the religious argument. It is not natural to use man-made technology either to prevent conception or to enable erection, and that would seem to make both against Catholic doctrine. On the other hand, birth control prevents pregnancies, whereas Viagra and Cialis enable it. And there is that old religious concept of raising the dead…
Of course the freedom of religion issue would only activate for ED pills if the Vatican came out against their use.
Seriously, it is grossly unfair for right-wingers to go after birth control and not ED drugs. My own view would be to cover the birth control for cost and public health reasons, but not to cover the ED pills because the ED pills raise healthcare costs and address no public health problem. Sex is, after all, an optional activity for men and women. Just not for the human species.