Despite ongoing controversy and about a million lawsuits filed over the Affordable Care Act requirement that insurance companies provide free contraception coverage, the editors of the New England Journal of Medicine point out that birth control is crucial to women’s health and benefits all of society. Sarah Posner provides this quote:
More important, planned pregnancy affords women and their children a better quality of life: it gives younger women the opportunity to complete school, start careers, and establish stable relationships, and older women the ability to add to their families only when they have the capacity to care for them. Finally, a full panel of contraceptive services saves money for the state, as evidenced by gathered data and empirical modeling. Simply put, there is a compelling public health value in preventing unwanted pregnancy.
In working with women to prevent unwanted pregnancy, physicians need the full panel of FDA-approved contraceptive methods. If that panel is limited by a woman’s inability to pay — if the method deemed optimal for her is unavailable because her health insurance does not cover it — then the religious freedom of her employer will have interfered with the provision of high-quality medical care to her. In this context, the welfare of the patient must trump the religious convictions of her employer. After all, it is the woman, not her employer, whose health is at risk.
I think contraception should be provided free of charge to all women. I don’t care how it’s paid for, we as a society will spend far less on free birth control than we would for the unplanned pregnancies it would prevent. And those who consider themselves “pro-life” because they oppose abortion should want the same thing. The fact that they’re not is compelling evidence that it’s not abortion that they aim to stop, it’s women having control of their reproduction in any way whatsoever.