First off, technically the left isn’t trying to restrict access to birth control pills. But if they’re allowed to use the dishonest mental gymnastics of equating “access” to mean “forcing someone else to buy something for you” then I can take a few liberties with my post’s title to garnish some click bait. But that doesn’t mean that the title is deceptive, either. In the words of the once-great Damien Sandow, allow me to beg your indulgence…
Recently the none too leftist publication, The National Review, made the conservative case for making birth control pills an over the counter drug, as several Republicans running for the Senate have adopted this position.
Senate nominees Cory Gardner (Colorado), Ed Gillespie (Virginia), Mike McFadden (Minnesota), and Thom Tillis (North Carolina), in addition to some Republican House candidates, are calling for the Food and Drug Administration to reclassify a number of hormonal contraceptives as over-the-counter (OTC) drugs, making them accessible without a prescription. They’re not the first Republicans to call for deregulating the market: Former HHS and state health official and governor Bobby Jindal (Louisiana) endorsed the idea in 2012.
Hormonal birth control has been around for a long time, and while it has some dangers, they aren’t going to be addressed by hauling women in for a perfunctory, often uninformative doctor’s visit. Over-the-counter availability is a market-based approach to medicine, and it drives down the cost of drugs substantially. The pro-life movement has had some unease about birth control as evidence has appeared that it can, in some instances, destroy an embryo, ending a human life. But requiring a prescription is no way to address that concern.
Kudos for the Republicans for trying something radical like becoming champions of using market forces to drive down costs and with it, increase the availability of a good. Granted, this is mainly in reaction to how effective the left has been at convincing women that birth control should be the main concern that they should be thinking about (as opposed to trivialities, like jobs, the economy, energy, etc). But hey, it’s good to see the party doing the right thing for kind of wrong reasons as opposed to its recent history of doing the stupid thing for the wrong reasons. While I found this idea interesting, it wasn’t the idea, but rather the reaction of the radical left that prompted this post.
In The Nation’s newsletter that I subscribe to one of their headlines that caught my eye was an article by Zoe Carpenter called, Don’t Fall for the GOP’s Over-the-Counter Contraception Racket. There were too many ridiculous claims in the article for me to address, but I thought that one excellent point was
None of these people were championing the proposal before their campaigns.
I think that this is a fair point to contest. Politicians making claims that may or not be true to appeal to an audience is the nature of the beast. If I’m hearing a candidate take up some new position that only came into existence when campaign season started then I think some hard questions as to what will happen after the election are fair game. Unfortunately that sentence I cited is about the only bit of sense in Carpenter’s article – most of it centers around the fact that leftists can’t grasp why anyone would disagree with them over abortion, mandates, etc. And National review did a good job of pointing out the other side of the coin:
The Left’s response to this political development continues its cynical treatment of this issue. Liberal-leaning doctors’ groups and abortion advocates such as Planned Parenthood supported proposals like the ones Republicans are touting now . . . until Republicans started touting them.
Let’s back up a bit and look at what the actual objective is here – it is maximizing access to oral contraceptives for women by making the product as inexpensive as possible. At the end of the day that end goal should be all that matters. But Carpenter still opposes it
Nor is making contraception available without a prescription an alternative to the birth control mandate (or, needless to say, the entire healthcare law).
I understand the left’s position that this doesn’t address coverage for abortions, the Obamacare mandates, etc. But why wouldn’t the left at least support making birth control pills cheaper? If this issue were about access, a better response would have been something along the lines of “While we applaud Republicans finally coming around to the need for women’s access to contraception, we still disagree with their unwillingness to support…”. But they didn’t. Why? Very simply, it’s about control. As I wrote a while back about how lost in all of the birth control pill controversy was why condom use wasn’t being mentioned:
They’re cheap. In the left’s efforts to get the public to accept sacrificing any freedom over their health care decisions, having expensive medical needs are necessary to show why average citizens need them.
Condoms are easily accessible. The evil, capitalist system has crated a product that is so cheap and easy to purchase that it would be difficult for the government to swoop in and take over their distribution, thus the need to force solutions that are easier to control.
As I’ve always argued, however much leftism claims to be about helping people, at the end of the day it’s about controlling them. One of Carpenter’s last point is
When conservatives fight to empower women to make decisions about their own bodies in all cases, regardless of income, then maybe we’ll take them seriously.
Or maybe when the radical left stops defining empowerment as dependence on government and stops fighting anything that could weaken that dependence, then maybe we’ll take them seriously.
Cross posted from Brother Bob’s Blog