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How The Contraception Mandate May Spread Measles: Politicizing Preventive Care Increases Public Distrust

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.

A recent measles outbreak starting at Disneyland has public health authorities seeing spots.

They are confounded by a sizable number of people, including some celebrities, who oppose vaccinations. According to On Immunity author Eula Biss, anti-vaccine sentiment is often not medical but “political” and rooted in “fear.”


One of the best ways to cause distrust in public health experts is for the government to politicize science. This can be seen in contentious areas like climate change, embryo research, and the beginning of human life. Experts there have infused ideology into data and have even changed or redefined words to fit their agendas. Global warming has become “climate change,” embryos “pre-embryos,” and “conception” redefined to mean implantation.Obamacare claims to have standardized vaccine access. But it may be feeding anti-vaccine sentiment in a fairly direct way. 

In their rules that govern vaccines and immunizations, Obamacare bureaucrats decided to import the most intense of political debates surrounding abortion and women’s rights. Obamacare lists a category of health care called “preventive services.” These are supposed to be services that prevent diseases or identify them, especially immunizations. Obamacare prioritizes these services so that preventive services must be completely free, whereas many sick patients must cover co-pays for the drugs they need.

In 2011, Obamacare bureaucrats decided that there’s another disease they want to put into the category with measles and polio as requiring preventive care: pregnancy. 

The Obama administration defined contraception and sterilization as a preventive service – the same status held by vaccines that prevent highly infectious diseases. The Affordable Care Act itself doesn’t require this definition, and Congress had failed almost two dozen times to pass a bill giving all women free contraception. 


Obamacare bureaucrats simply decided to provide women free contraception by flexing their medical expertise. They mandated, as a matter of preventive care and immunization, that health plans must handle drugs that prevent babies the same way they handle drugs that prevent chickenpox. 

The government’s committee used experts almost exclusively associated with Planned Parenthood, which is the nation’s largest abortion provider and sells contraception to hundreds of thousands of women. No pro-fertility experts were invited.

The committee’s bias was so extreme that one panel member dissented. Dr. Anthony Lo Sasso of the University of Illinois at Chicago School of Public Health said the majority report was based on “subjective determinations filtered through a lens of advocacy.”

Obamacare’s defenders then doubled down on their view that fetuses and pertussis are equivalent. Religious people who didn’t want to provide contraception or early abortion pills were told they should lose their lawsuits because their objection was supposedly no different than objecting to vaccines for actual diseases. 

The New Yorker’s Steve Coll compared Hobby Lobby to a hypothetical Taliban company that objects to the polio vaccine.Senator Barbara Boxer, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, NARAL Pro-Choice America

, and others likewise echoed the idea that contraception and vaccines are equivalent. 


Pregnancy is not a disease. It is a healthy condition that impacts people’s deepest beliefs. Obamacare used it to politicize the category of preventive care and immunization, threatening to punish dissenters with fines from the IRS. 

When public health experts equated pregnancy with immunizable disease, they politicized preventive care. No one should be surprised when citizens view those same experts’ recommendations on vaccines through an ideological and fearful lens. Public health experts have watered down the scientific discourse surrounding preventive care. 

Scientific progressivists try to conform citizens to what bureaucrats think is best for them, even categorizing human procreation as a disease. Sowing the wind of politicized science, they have reaped a whirlwind of public distrust.

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