Very few subjects in American society are as controversial as abortion. That’s not new news. Of course, the idea that health reform meant that government was going to start paying for abortions (not true), became a very useful political soundbite for those who oppose reform. It wasn’t long ago that Bart Stupak was holding out on voting for the legislation and had to be convinced that an executive order from President Obama would ensure that no federal funds would be used to provide abortions.
Well, now, the focus has shifted to contraception. As Dana Goldstein writes, the coming battle will be over whether birth control should be provided to all women with no cost-sharing. In other words, it would be free to the consumer at the pharmacy counter–their insurance would cover it. Of course, people are starting to object to that on two counts. First, they’re not happy to be paying for a service that they see as elective and don’t intend to use themselves. I can kind of see their point, but that’s really the purpose of health insurance–it spreads risk (and cost) around so that it is more affordable for everyone. Second, there are moral objections from entities like the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, which see birth control as interfering with the primary purpose of sexual intercourse–procreation. There also seem to be some who believe that the more available birth control becomes, the more prevalent all forms of sexual activity will become–this would include the abstinence only crowd in addition to the group that thinks contraception is wrong even for married couples.
At this point, I think it’s worth watch a clip of candidate Obama speak on the topic of abortion during CNN’s 2008 Compassion Forum:
I think he makes great points. While we may differ in our views on its legality, let’s agree that none of us–whether pro-life or pro-choice–think that abortions are a good thing. Let’s change our strategy to one that focuses on reducing the need for abortions in the first place. Contraception seems like a no-brainer place to start. You see, if you oppose contraception, you must then hope that everyone abides by your own moral code of abstinence, otherwise there are likely to be many unwanted pregnancies, some of which will end in abortions, which you also oppose. You have, in a sense, shot yourself in the foot. But, if you make contraception widely available, you stand to significantly reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies and subsequent abortions. How is that not a good thing?