Setting aside the fact that even married women use contraceptives, why are Republicans using this issue to lecture us on morality?
The problem with the contraceptive mandate is not the contraceptive part — it’s the mandate. The new health‐care law requires every employer with 50 or more employees to provide their workers with health insurance. It also requires every American who doesn’t receive health insurance through work or a government program to buy insurance themselves or face a fine.
But simply providing or buying insurance is not enough to fulfill the mandate. The insurance must satisfy the government’s definition of what qualifies as proper insurance, including a long list of benefits that the government thinks you should have.
In this case, the benefit we are talking about is contraceptives, and it has sparked particular outrage because it will force religious institutions to pay, even indirectly, for a benefit that they find morally repugnant. But it is hardly the only benefit that the new health‐care law mandates. Among other benefits, your policy must now include mental health benefits, drug and alcohol rehabilitation, prescription drugs, dental and vision care for children and a host of other services. You may not want those benefits, and they may make your insurance more expensive, but it is no longer your choice. The government will now decide for you. Your choice of deductibles and co‐payments will also be restricted.
This debate has nothing to do with access to birth control. Contraceptives are legal. There is nothing that prevents any woman who wants contraceptives from purchasing them. Most insurance plans already do so, and when they don’t, women can purchase a rider that provides the additional coverage.
This is a debate about forcing all employers to pay for a benefit, rather than having such decisions based on the choices of employers and employees. It doesn’t matter whether we are talking about contraceptives, dental care or spa treatments.
This should provide Republicans with an opening to discuss the arrogance of a government that presumes to know better than we do how to run our lives. Yet too many Republicans seem to see this as an opportunity to tell us how they would run our lives instead. Both sides in this debate are contemptuous of our ability to make our own decisions.
Most Americans would prefer that the government simply leave us alone. They do not want the president to be our national employee benefits administrator, nor do they want him to be our preacher‐in‐chief.
Republicans need to learn the difference.