Taxpayers shouldn’t be forced to subsidize contraceptives

The blow-up over contraceptives has really hurt Republicans, but that doesn’t mean that they don’t have a point when it comes to whether or not taxpayers should foot the bill for them. Jacob Sullum, who is no social conservative, weighs the arguments that Sandra Fluke and others have put forward about the cost of birth control:

Although Fluke chose to attend a Jesuit university knowing that its student health plan did not cover contraceptives, she believes it is unfair that she has to live with the consequences of that decision. “We refuse to pick between a quality education and our health,” she said, “and we resent that, in the 21st century, anyone thinks it’s acceptable to ask us to make this choice simply because we are women.”

Fluke claimed that “without insurance coverage, contraception can cost a woman over $3,000 during law school,” which translates into $1,000 a year, or about $83 a month. Even taking into account the cost of a medical appointment, that estimate seems high, since you can buy a month’s worth of birth control pills for less than $20 online or pay $9 for generic versions at Walmart. Condoms are about 50 cents each in packs of 12, and the amortized cost of a diaphragm, according to Planned Parenthood, averages about $2 a month.

Yet Fluke reported that two-fifths of female law students at Georgetown are “struggling” to pay for birth control, while some cannot afford it at all. If so, abstinence is always an option.

Cost aside, the essence of Fluke’s argument is that reproductive freedom requires free birth control. By the same logic, religious freedom requires kosher food subsidies, freedom of speech requires taxpayer-funded computers, and the right to keep and bear arms requires government-supplied guns.

If you do not agree with this reasoning, according to a recent fundraising appeal from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on behalf of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, you are joining “Republicans’ disgraceful assault on women’s rights.” I am not now, nor have I ever been, a Republican, but Fluke’s idea of “reproductive justice”—compelling other people to pay for her contraceptives, even when they object to that requirement for religious reasons—strikes me as decidedly unjust.

The view that Sullum presents could be used for the countless programs for which taxpayers to shell out money. But the way the debate was handled poorly by Republicans, thanks to Rush Limbaugh and others, and the point that they were trying to make was largely missed.

Apparently, all that is needed now to have justification to receive taxpayer-funded subsidizes is a congressional testimony, Rush Limbaugh say something stupid about you, and a phone call from the president. Nevermind that you’re using the force of government to take from Peter to pay Paul.

But the logic applied by Fluke, that taxpayers should pay for contraceptives for those that can’t afford them, could be applied to other things. And this is why Remy, a comedian who often teams wil, wants taxpayers to support his cough drop addiction:

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