Public Funding of Contraception and Abortion

I got into a lengthy discussion with a friend over whether government should provide funding for contraception and abortion.  He is a little to the right of me politically, to say the least.  Here is how the discussion went.  His comments are in red, mine in blue…for obvious reasons.

I started it with this:

I found this article on The National Memo about a speech given by Wendy Davis. Apparently, she dared to give her definition of what it means to be “pro-life”:

“I am pro-life,” she told a University of Texas at Brownsville crowd on Tuesday. “I care about the life of every child: every child that goes to bed hungry, every child that goes to bed without a proper education, every child that goes to bed without being able to be a part of the Texas dream, every woman and man who worry about their children’s future and their ability to provide for that future. I care about life and I have a record of fighting for people above all else.”

“This isn’t about protecting abortion,” Davis explained in the same appearance. “It’s about protecting women. It’s about trusting women to make good decisions for themselves and empowering them with the tools to do that.”

I agree with her as long as she doesn’t want socialized abortion.

But…how can women make “good decisions for themselves” if they do not have the option of abortion?  If a woman wants an abortion, and does not have the financial resources to pay for it…then what?

So, you are saying that her decision can affect the taxpayers… I don’t think so. Abortion is legal-that is all that should be asked. No more regulations for the conservatives, no more concessions for the liberals.

You don’t want government to pay for it…so what options would you think are appropriate?

Do you want to compromise and have NGOs help women in need or would you rather not compromise and have the Republicans illegalize abortion? You can’t have the whole hog.

Do you agree that the consequences of an unwanted birth are worse than abortion?

Yes.  I agree with that.

Then please address the costs to society of abortion vs. unwanted birth.  Because that is the bottom line.  I am talking about both financial and social costs.

Look, if you took everybody who agreed with you and got them to pay for the free abortion services they so wanted, there would be more than enough money. Unfortunately, the ideology of most socialists is that everybody must agree with them and do what they do for it to work, and they think that no charities work and that forcing everybody to pay for things that they want is the only way.

Charities are not free.  Somebody is paying for it through voluntary contributions which we all pay for because they are tax deductible.  A tax deduction is a tax on everyone who does not get the deduction.  If there is a need, government cannot depend on private services to provide it because they are not legally bound to do so.  And many of them are trying to combine their services with religious proselytizing.  That violates the principle of separation of church and state because they are tax-exempt.

I agree with you here. Churches should not be tax exempt, they are money making organizations. 

But fundamentally, it is an abrogation of the responsibilities of government to rely on private organizations to provide essential services.  Those private organizations could decide tomorrow to terminate their services…or limit them in any way they choose.  If you agree with me that the costs of an unwanted or unsupportable child outweigh the costs of an abortion, then it is an investment for government to provide abortions. But, of course, contraception is a far better solution, and government should provide it for free, because it is a better and lower cost solution than abortion.

Why don’t we just hand out free money for people.

Nations in Africa where Aids is prevalent give out free condoms.  They recognize that the costs are less than dealing with the disease.  The Catholic Church has tried…and in some cases succeeded…in prohibiting foreign aid money from being used for contraceptives.  They would rather see Aids spread than prevent unwanted births.

The best way of not spreading AIDS is having strict and effective laws. Countries with anti-promiscuity laws have miniscule AIDS infection.  I would be willing to have free contraception and abortion if and only if it is not paid for by me. I should not have to pay for people to have intercourse.  Free contraception is one of the worst decisions. Not only does it contradict many people’s religions, but it is basically saying go ahead and have intercourse, we’ll sponsor it for you.  If socialists want to give out free abortion and contraception, they should get together and start an organization and take some of their income to give out free abortion and contraception.  Don’t ask me to pay for it.

You will pay for it one way or another.  But your way punishes the victims…and costs more in the long run.  People are going to have sex.  Unless you physically separate them…maybe put all poor people unable to support children in jail?  Aha, that would solve the problem!

And please define your social costs. There are many social costs of every situation.

It has been shown through many studies…you can find them…that drug usage, crime rates, murder, burglary, assault, etc. are much higher in low-income areas.  People in these areas are much more likely to be on welfare, single mothers trying to provide for children by dealing drugs or whatever they can to survive.   Their children grow up and the cycle continues. The social costs of that vicious circle are huge.  The costs of abortion and contraception are miniscule in comparison.

Solving the poverty problem and the population problem is giving people jobs, not providing them with free stuff so they don’t have to get jobs. It is just like African countries and foreign aid. 

I agree with that.  The problem is, unwanted children keep people in poverty and unable to work because they have to take care of their kids…especially the single mothers.  We have to break that cycle, and withholding contraception and abortion insures that it will continue.  You are still not recognizing that the costs will be higher…both monetarily and in the suffering of the innocent children…if you withhold funding for C and A.

I don’t think you understand why I oppose it. It is not an economical reason why I oppose it. As I have said before, my taxes should not be used for people to have intercourse. Back before the 1960s when the hippie movement made promiscuity the norm, people disapproved of such actions. Now, we are just expected to accept it in the western world. Okay. But not pay for it.  And people are also going to be stupid in other ways. People will smoke, drink and take drugs. Does that make it our responsibility to give smokers free inhalers? Or to give drinkers free horses to find them their way home? Or needles for druggies so that they will not spread disease by sharing needles?

The difference is that when people have sex without contraception, children result, and there are consequential costs for society.  The people who suffer are the children.  Substance abuse causes self-inflicted suffering by the users.  There are exceptions.  In the case of smoking, society has taken action to prohibit smoking in public places. And of course there are laws against public drunkenness and DUI, etc. Actually, I think free needles is already being done in high drug usage areas.  Not sure whether it is privately or publicly funded. I get the feeling that your main objection is not the money, though.  It’s that you disapprove of government “encouraging” what you consider to be immoral or “stupid” behavior.  Am I wrong?

You are 105% correct. My biggest beef with your plan is that government would use my money to encourage immoral behavior.

My view is that whether I approve of what others do or not is unimportant.  What is important is how their actions affect me (and by extension, others in society).  If taking no action leads to higher social costs and suffering by their children, then NOT taking action is stupid and short-sighted.  The government will use your money to solve this problem, one way or another.  If you would rather wait until the unwanted, unsupported children become criminals or welfare cases, then you will pay a bigger price and cause a lot of suffering.  That punishes the victims…the children.

I am not punishing any victims

OH?  If the unwanted births of those children were prevented, they would not be suffering. If society has a problem, those who stand in the way of the solution bear some responsibility for the consequences…especially when their opposition doesn’t even make economic sense.  But, of course, you are not alone in your opposition on moral grounds.  The solution that you and others offer is…abstinence.  Just like the Catholic Church does for their priests.  We see how well that worked out.  Until we put cameras and microphones into every home, that is unrealistic and unworkable.  Even devout Christians know that the Bible says to “be fruitful and multiply.”  Sex is a natural act that people are gonna do no matter how loud and long the moralists lecture.  It’s a fact of life and nobody can change it.  So instead of fighting against nature, we had better find a way to mitigate its results.  Or…maybe you should go into the pharma industry and design a drug that suppresses all sex drive.  A “libido pill.”  And then government can FORCE all the poor people to take it.

Well, I would be willing to give those out for free, not force it, but it would certainly void the free contraception and abortion idea.

Ah, but that doesn’t solve the problem, does it?  If they can decide whether or not to take it, then if they do not…what then? 

Then they are knowingly causing a problem for themselves.

And so…what?  Let the children suffer?  Accept the higher costs of a deteriorating social structure instead of trying to fix the problem?  That will RAISE your taxes, but maybe you won’t mind paying more, knowing that you have taken a comfortable moral position. By taking that moral and judgmental position, you are not solving the problem. That is what government should do…solve the problem. Punishing people who do things that you consider stupid and immoral does not solve the problem.  In fact, it makes it worse.  This is the position of most Religious Right and Tea Partiers.

Look, if the pills are given out for free and are not taken, consequences are obvious. The government has done what it can. We can only babysit people for so long.

So you are okay with the government providing free pills that decrease the sexual urge, but not okay with free pills to prevent conception?

Correct.

If the goal is to prevent unwanted children, why do you care whether people have sex or not, as long as the end result is the same?

I care because by making contraception and abortion free, we are paying people TO have intercourse. By giving out anti-libido pills we are paying people NOT to have intercourse.

In either case you are providing people with a means to prevent unwanted children. It should be no concern of yours whether they have intercourse or not.  The important thing is to prevent unwanted children, right?  In fact, if they get pleasure from sex, why would you want to prevent that?

It is not my job, or anyone’s job, to pay for people to have pleasure. Plus, pills that decrease libido will also solve other problems (promiscuity, STDs, overpopulation).

Instead of trying to prevent sex, I think it is much more realistic to prevent conception. You are tampering with a fundamental (and essential) facet of human nature when you try to prevent people from having sex.  I think even conservatives would be uncomfortable with that.  It’s Big Government trying to control the most private part of a person’s life.

How would it be Big Government to offer people free anti-libido pills? It is communist and hippie to make straight laced working responsible people pay for stupid irresponsible promiscuous people’s intercourse. You act as if intercourse is a necessity. It is not. It is not necessary and causes most if not all of the problems of this world.

I think you would have a hard time finding many people who would agree with you that sexual activity is not an important…even necessary…part of the life experience. I think you are “fighting human nature” to attempt to get men to suppress it willingly. When you tell a man, “Take this pill and you can’t have sex,” that is a threat to his manhood.  Most would not even consider such a thing.  They would most likely throw the pill back in the face of the person who offered it. But using a condom does not threaten manhood.  Nor is a woman’s feminine image of herself threatened by taking the pill.  I think most women consider it a temporary measure, to be terminated when they are ready to have children. 

If they made a lingerie tax I would not oppose it.

Um…lingerie tax?  How did we get to that?  What does it have to do with this discussion?

It would pay for contraception and abortion in health insurance, rather than me having to pay for people to have intercourse.

As a young man, I didn’t need lingerie to attract me to a female.  In fact, none of them had any sexy nightgowns or outfits that I can recall.  So, I think your tax might reduce the sale of such things, but I don’t think it would generate enough income (by far) to pay for birth control pills. 

If we were politicians out for a cup of coffee, this would be my final offer. If it is not enough money, tough.

It would just hurt the companies that make clothing that wives might buy to make themselves attractive to their husbands.

Now you are worried about corporations?

But let’s examine your idea a little further.  So in this Brave New World you are postulating, if a guy refuses to take your libido pill and gets a girl pregnant, than what?

Then he is a dumb-ass and he should pay for the abortion if she wants one.
 

Bert Bigelow graduated from the University of Michigan engineering school, and then pursued a career in software design.  He has always enjoyed writing, and since retirement, has produced short essays on many subjects.  His main interests are in the areas of politics and religion, and the intersection of the two.  Many of his writings are posted on his web site, bigelowbert.com.  You can contact him at bigelowbert@aol.com.

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