The heated public debate about the HHS mandate requiring employers to cover contraception has brought out the worst in “feminist” organizations. It’s time to blow the whistle: They’ve resorted to creating outright fiction in order to fundraise and fear-monger. Sadly, upon examination, many of their claims go beyond the usual political spin, to outright untruths that are actually destructive to women’s empowerment.
Lie #1: Women don't have access to birth control. This time last year, did you know that American women faced such a crisis in accessing contraception? No, you didn’t, because there simply is no crisis. Any woman in the United States can get her hands on birth control. In fact, as Planned Parenthood points out, 98 percent of all American women who’ve had sex have used contraception. To get the pill, a woman needs an appointment at her doctor’s office or a local health clinic. But women can also buy condoms, which are available at practically every drugstore and gas station, as well as at hundreds of public schools in the U.S.
Lie #2: Contraception is prohibitively expensive. Many women in the U.S. qualify for free birth control, even without health insurance. If you don’t qualify for free birth control, here’s one good low-cost option: Wal-mart offers some oral contraceptives at $9 a month. And the American Pregnancy Association says condoms cost 20¢ to $2.50 each.
Lie #3: Without the HHS mandate, employers will drop contraceptive coverage. This one is just plain odd since, as of today – without a mandate in place – 90 percent of employers who offer health insurance offer a plan that covers contraception. Yes, that's without a mandate forcing them to do so. Twenty-eight states also already have rules that require employers to cover birth control in the company’s insurance plan, with the statutes varying on what kind of exemption is offered to religious employers.
Lie #4: Opponents of the mandate want to impose their religious views on others. The Daily Kos likened opposition to the mandate as support for a “Christian Sharia Law!” And NOW president Terry O’Neill said, “…Opponents of birth control coverage are opponents of birth control, period.” These claims are patently false.
Most people who oppose the mandate oppose it simply because it is a mandate. At its core, this is a debate about the role of government. It's particularly appalling for government to force those with religious convictions to violate their beliefs, but more broadly many Americans object to government setting these kinds of dictates, period. Even beyond the consequences for individual liberty, there are economic consequences to such regulatory mandates as well.
Lie #5: This mandate is critical for women's health. Feminists focus on women enjoying the benefit of “free” oral contraceptives, but there are reasons for concern that this policy could backfire in terms of women's health. Condoms are the only form of birth control that prevents the spread of STDs, but oral contraceptive subsidies could lead to many forgoing condoms for the pill, putting women's health in jeapordy. Each woman should decide which form of contraception is best for her, without the government skewing the market in favor of one form over another.
Furthermore, if oral birth control pills for females will be available to every American woman “free of charge,” why would scientists continue to develop an oral contraceptive for men? In fact, instead of blindly supporting this mandate, feminists should ask why the Obama Administration wants to make contraception officially a “women’s issue” in the first place, when it should be a shared responsibility with men.
Lie #6: Women are so helpless, we can't take care of ourselves. Ok, that's not how feminists put it exactly, but they certainly paint women as victims in need of government intervention, lest their bodies be “at the mercy of men” because they lack birth control. Aren’t we stronger than this? Can’t we be responsible for our own care, for our own actions? Truly independent women who want to be in control of their own contraception and reproductive future should oppose the HHS mandate and stop arguing for Uncle Sam to intervene.
Susan B. Anthony said, “There is not a woman born who desires to eat the bread of dependence,” but left-wing self-described “feminists” now seem exceptionally hungry for that costly bread. So hungry, they are willing to hamstring employers, cheat the Constitution, and lie to the public. American women shouldn’t buy these tired lines, and this out-dated brand of feminism.