The Corner

Law & the Courts

Sotomayor’s Ridiculous Birth-Control Argument

Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor poses during a group photo of the Justices at the Supreme Court in Washington, D.C., April 23, 2021. (Erin Schaff/Pool via Reuters)

During her “questioning” in the Dobbs case today, Sonia Sotomayor argued that 19 percent of Mississippi women went without access to birth control because they were uninsured.

It is certainly true that there can be some planning by some people about pregnancy. People who are raped don’t have a choice, whether it’s by an outsider or their own husband. And not everybody can afford contraceptives, contrary to the — the — your adversary’s brief. In fact, 19 percent of the women in Mississippi are uninsured, so they don’t have money to pay for contraceptives.

They can’t pay for contraceptives, but they can pay for abortions?

This is a truly stupid talking point that has been popularized over the past decade or so. Now even if we concede for the sake of argument that the government has some civic responsibility to subsidize your birth control, people without means have Medicaid, which covers contraception. Second, Democrats have, in many cases, compelled business owners — even those who have personal and religious objections — to subsidize abortifacients and birth control for their employees. Third, birth control is relatively inexpensive discretionary purchase, not a medical necessity, that can be found virtually anywhere in the country even if a person doesn’t have employer-provided or government health-care coverage. And the main arguments for continuing to subsidize Planned Parenthood with hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars every year is to help women obtain birth control.

But, of course, we have no constitutional obligation to provide our neighbors — men or women — with contraception. But can you imagine a justice making the argument that Americans don’t really have “access” to guns — a right explicitly protected in the Constitution — because the state isn’t subsidizing their AR-15s? It’s a ridiculous standard, and we shouldn’t allow this framing to be normalized.


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