Should the government be required to provide access to free birth control? | The Tylt

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Should the government be required to provide access to free birth control?
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With the distinct possibility of the Republican-controlled Congress repealing the Affordable Care Act, women could lose minimum insurance coverage of contraceptives. There is reason to believe the law has reduced abortions and unplanned pregnancies—which is why some proponents are calling for federal and state governments to ensure women have access to free birth control regardless of what happens to the Affordable Care Act.

There are a few major arguments against free birth control, and most boil down to cost and religious freedom. But fiscally, the cost argument doesn't hold water. It's significantly cheaper to invest in birth control than it is to pay for the myriad of welfare costs related to unplanned pregnancies. Here's one hot take from the Washington Post:

If you want to increase high school and college completion rates, discourage people from going on welfare, improve low-income people’s earning potential and reduce government spending overall, more generous support for family planning services should be on your list.

But let's talk straight numbers. How much does free birth control save you in tax dollars? This much.

For example, a 2012 study by the Brookings Institute found that investing $235 million in Medicaid expansion would save about $1.32 billion by reducing unplanned births that could later become a burden on the state...
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But there is a cost argument against free birth control, and that it could potentially make things more expensive or reduce the likelihood of companies investing in new and superior contraceptives.

We shouldn't use insurance for regular expenses — car insurance doesn't cover gasoline, health insurance shouldn't cover toothpaste or birth control. If it did, those markets would become less competitive, and the cost of those products would rise. Furthermore, "The minute pills are 'free,' under insurance, the incentive for drug companies to come up with cheaper versions vanishes. So does their incentive to develop safer, more convenient, male-centered or nonprescription birth control."
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That's malarkey. The Affordable Care Act created minimum coverage requirements and expanded access to birth control, and the net result was cheaper and more widely-available contraceptives for women. No one's birth control costs skyrocketed and coverage hasn't stopped pharmaceutical companies from pursuing male birth control.

What did happen? The abortion rate dropped to its lowest level in 45 years and more women are using more complex and safe methods of birth control. This is why birth control should be free for all.

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That still doesn't address the primary problem with forcing individuals to pay for birth control—it impedes religious freedom. No one should be forced to pay for something that violates their religious values. And that's not just talk. The Supreme Court decision Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. essentially spelled that out, in a 5-4 victory for religious freedom conservatives.

And that was just a Supreme Court decision ruling in favor of companies that do not want to pay for insurance policies that cover cover the bulk of the costs. Imagine if the government was just doling out free birth control. There's no way such a mandate would withstand that Supreme Court decision.

The law is the law. Everyone is entitled to pursue religious freedom and nobody has a right to obstruct that.

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Here are some perspectives from folks who are for free birth control.

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Here are some perspectives from folks who feel like they shouldn't have to pay for others' birth control.

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Should the government be required to provide access to free birth control?
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