It ought by now to have become rather obvious that there is no more a crisis in “access” to contraception in America than there is in access to Tylenol. But, for the sake of argument, let’s step outside of reality’s bounds for a moment and imagine that there were. In such circumstances, we might presume that it would not be of pressing concern to design an entitlement for the nation’s working and insured people while entirely ignoring the poor, the unemployed, and the uninsured. And yet those entertaining the “access” fantasy have done precisely that with their HHS mandate. In short, they have contrived the wrong answer to a problem that does not exist. That is some feat.
Let’s recap: The mandate forces employers
to cover their employees’
contraception within their insurance
plans, and it does this without allowing the employer
to take higher premiums
from their employees’ paychecks
. Notice a trend? In other words, it addresses those who do not need addressing while cloaking its moral imperatives in the language of the needy. Whatever one’s view of the obligations of society and the state toward the genuinely poor — and, equally, of the wisdom and efficacy of government intervention — the debate that we have been having over the past month is actually about those in society well placed to look after themselves.
Understandably difficult as it might have been to glean amid the white noise that has served as a constant backdrop, what Katherine Sebelius, President Obama, Sandra Fluke, and their ilk are really advocating is that institutions that are perceived to be rich — employers, insurance and pharmaceutical companies, colleges, and so forth — should pay for the conveniences of those who are less well-off, and that they should do this to fulfill a “right.” (Note that if the purpose of a birth-control prescription is to address medical issues other than contraception, most insurance plans already cover this, even if they don’t cover contraception per se.) We are dealing here with a non-issue: Women are not suffering in America because they have to pay for their own birth control. It is this stubborn fact that has pushed the advocates of the mandate to resort so quickly to hyperbole. Unfortunately, their hysteria has been surprisingly successful at conflating in the minds of many “not paying” for something and “banning” it, and effectively accusing those of us who can see that the emperor has no clothes of “hating women.”