July 8, 2014

Rush Limbaugh saying "Pajama Boy types having sex, sex, sex/That's what it's all about" made me realize something about the political division over Obamacare and birth control.

It really is about sex. It's not about women. You may think women are getting a benefit, and we hear a lot of "War on Women" politics, but the real division is not between men and women. There are men and women on both sides of a line that is determined by sexual behavior and sexual attitudes.

First, here's the Rush monologue that got me thinking in these terms:
... I, and I assume a lot of you folks, too, we're from the old school where you provide for yourself.  We were raised that whatever you want or need, you go out and get a job and earn enough to buy it. If you can't afford it, then you put it off until you can.  But the last thing you do is ask somebody else.... But the thing I have learned is that men are totally supportive.  Today's young men are totally supportive of somebody else buying women their birth control pills. Make sure the women are taking them, 'cause sex is what it's all about.

Pajama Boy types having sex, sex, sex. That's what it's all about. Everybody wants it and whatever it takes to make it safe. And if it takes the taxpayers buying women birth control, the men are for it, too.  It's cheap insurance, and if this is what women want before they'll have sex, then fine.  So this is the change that you and I were slow to arrive to because we were brought up with the idea that sex has consequences and that it's somewhat special, and that if you want something you provide it yourself.  You don't ask somebody else....
See how revealing that is? There's this basic idea that people should earn their own money and pay for their own stuff. You're free to choose to do what you want — which might be to have sex — but you need to cover your own expenses. You can see that this is a moral precept, because it takes no account of the costs to all of us when children are born to women who are economically and emotionally unprepared and who do not have a stable household. To me, thinking pragmatically, paying for other people to use birth control seems like a way for society as a whole to save money, because I'm picturing planned pregnancies leading to better behaved, more educable children.

Rush focuses on the men and women who want to have sex. He doesn't express disapproval of fornication like an old-school religionist, but he does say "sex, sex, sex" in a way that stimulates the old-school religious disapproval in (I presume) many of his listeners. They are a voting bloc to be massaged and tended, and Rush knows how to do that without having to come across as a hypocrite. With his life story — he's on his 4th wife and has no children — he can't be censorious about those who flout traditional sexual morality. But he can inspire the censoriousness of others. It's a neat trick, and I think he's damned proud of his ability to perform that trick. He should be. It's impressive.

But here's what I want to focus on: Whenever a woman is using birth control, it's because she's having sexual intercourse with a man. In the set of persons who need birth control, there is an equal number of women and men. (Approximately. Fewer women may be interacting with a larger number of men or vice versa.) Regardless of whose body the birth control device goes in or on, there is always a man and a woman using that birth control. In fact, if you're having sex, with birth control, and you're not the one whose body is subjected to the drug or device, you're getting an even better benefit than your partner.

So the real division on the birth control issue is not between men and women. It is between 1. men and women who have sex when they don't want children and 2. everyone else. 

Group 2 is diverse. It includes:
A. those who don't engage in the kind sex that could produce a pregnancy — with subsets:
i. the abstainers
ii. the infertile
iii. the gay
B. couples who have sex that is open to procreation — with subsets:
i. those who are trying to have a baby
ii. those with a moral scruple against birth control
It's still a separate question who, within those groups, objects to insurance coverage for birth control. And even among the objectors to the coverage, you ought to distinguish between those who have the Rush Limbaugh attitude that people ought to pay for their own stuff and those who have a religious or moral need to avoid complicity with what they sincerely believe is sinful or wrong. I think the latter is a relatively small set. It's Group 2(B)(ii). These are the people the Hobby Lobby case was about. And I think there are people — in all of the other groups— who care about the predicament of Group 2(B)(ii) and might want to help them. Helping them might seem more important than providing coverage for birth control, even for those of us who think birth control is great and that it's in society's general interest to ensure that everyone in Group 1 gets it.

It's all about sex. Sex, sex, sex. That's what Rush Limbaugh said, and he was right. Now, let's think lucidly about sex. Don't get suckered into the War on Women. This is about men and women and what everyone thinks about the sex that we are having or not having. I expect many of you to insist that it's best not to think about the sex of other people — especially if you don't like Obamacare anyway. But I'm inviting you to think about sex.

Think about your membership in the sets and subsets I've delineated above. I'm in Group 2(A)(ii), but I have been in Group 1, Group 2(A)(i), and Group 2(B)(i).

Think about how you feel about those in the other groups. Personally, I have respect of all of the subsets (though I can imagine individuals within each of them that I would disapprove of). But maybe you feel hostile toward some of them. Why? Is your view of the birth control coverage issue related to the way you feel — be honest! — about the sex other people are having? If you rankle — like Rush — at other people wanting you to pay for their stuff — is it about sex?

It's all about sex. Sex, sex, sex.

203 comments:

1 – 200 of 203   Newer›   Newest»
The Drill SGT said...

Regardless of whose body the birth control device goes in or on, there is always a man and a woman using that birth control.

and possibly a turkey baster

BDNYC said...

I heard that there are some women who have to take birth control for health reasons having nothing to do with preventing pregnancy. At least that's one of the main arguments directed at the religious objectors who don't want to subsidize their employees' birth control pills.

Gahrie said...

Frankly, I believe popular culture is obsessed with sex..but frankly that is only (literally) natural.

One of the reasons I object to free birth control is my selfishness...I don't want to pay for someone else's recreation. If they ever pass a law giving women free ski lift tickets, I'll oppose that too.

Paco Wové said...

Can't speak for anyone else, but for me it's all about, and only about, coercion. As in, what are the limits of what the State can force its citizens to do? If any?

Nonapod said...

Yeah, it seems a little weird to essentially subsidize recreational sex. Especially if you're paying for people who we're lead to believe go through hundreds of dollars a month in contraception. Especially if you yourself ain't gettin laid anywhere near that much.

BrianE said...

Leaving aside the religious implications of casual sex, do you really think that 12 year old girls having sex is a good thing for them or for society?

In all the debate about abstinence only programs, studies have shown that those programs do delay the initial sexual event about 2 years.

While that fact is usually used to dismiss the benefit of abstinence only programs, do you think it is a benefit to the individual and society that 12 year olds wait until they are 14 for their first sexual encounter and 14 year olds wait until they are 16?

What message does free birth control for all, or birth control OTC send?

You can break sex down into a million components and it won't alter the fact that as a society we need to discourge child sex. Every year the first sexual event is delayed is a benefit to the child and to society.

Anonymous said...

I have always thought that Rush was a grossly under-rated analyst, particularly by his opponents, none of whom ever listen to him.

Lyssa said...

That's a very interesting take, and I think that AA's analysis is probably the way it *should* be. However, I disagree that it is the way it is. This is a dispute meant to draw sides between the religious (conservatives) and "those that care about women." It's meant to cause fear of being tarred with the brush of hating women, and to create fear and dependence in women. I don't believe that it really has much at all to do with sex.

- BDNYC, just a note - there are women who take birth control pills for non-contraceptive reasons, but Hobby Lobby covers birth control pills. This dispute is about IUDs and the morning after-pill (which I'm not aware of having any non-contraceptive uses).

Anonymous said...

I can't see pajama boy having sex with anybody. Unless he's rich, then all standards fly out the window.

Bob Ellison said...

I thought STDs and AIDS were still in play.

Ambrose said...

I don't mean to sound like a troll (and I understand the debate over federal mandates), BUT isn't employer-provided healthcare very clearly in the bucket of "stuff we earn by going out and getting a job?"

dbp said...

It certainly is about sex, at least for some people and also a "war on women" for some of the same.

I can't count the number of times I've seen (always from a lefty), "Why does HL have no problem covering Viagra?"

I always ask in reply, "Do you think the government should force employers to cover Viagra". I never get a response to this question though.

Unknown said...

Re: your statement that birth control leads to "wanted" children which will lead to better behaved and educable children... there is good research showing that since the advent of abortion, child abuse has increased rather dramatically. The thinking is that parents who can choose which children will live will naturally have higher expectations of those children and when the children don't measure up to the "perfect", educable, well-behaved child, abuse begins.

F said...

I heard Rush's monologue and came away from it thinking it was about financial responsibility, not about sex. The "sex, sex, sex" line was more about titillating his audience, in my opinion.

Do we know if Rush uses a scripted monologue, or is it stream of consciousness? I assume it is the latter, and I further assume that after finishing his financial responsibility comment the "sex, sex, sex" line popped into his head and he thought that would get a response from both the haters and the ditto heads.

Lyssa said...

AA said: To me, thinking pragmatically, paying for other people to use birth control seems like a way for society as a whole to save money, because I'm picturing planned pregnancies leading to better behaved, more educable children.

That appeals to me, but I question whether the pragmatism actually plays out. I imagine that AA, and most policy-makers, have lived their lives in the same way that I, and most of my peers, have - being very careful about birth control. It's almost impossible for me to wrap my head around doing it differently. Yet, unplanned pregnancies happen, every day, because people don't, despite having the ability to. My state's Medicaid (and I assume others), pre-ACA, covers birth control from the first dollar, yet unplanned pregnancies among those covered are epidemic. I think that it's more than about access; it's choices made that we don't understand and haven't done much to try to.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

...if you want something you provide it yourself. You don't ask somebody else....

That pretty much sums up my sex life.

madAsHell said...

Yeah.....I'm pretty sure pajama boy isn't having sex, sex, sex. It's difficult to have sex when you're busy picking a wedgie out of your ass.

tim maguire said...

So the real division on the birth control issue is not between men and women. It is between 1. men and women who have sex when they don't want children and 2. everyone else.

Hmmm...your analysis is partly right--I agree that government promoting irresponsible sex is part of the issue, but there is also the consideration that, as someone once pointed out, making your medical insurer pay for your birth control is like making your homeowner's insurance replace the light bulb on your front porch. It shows a misunderstanding of insurance and what insurance is for. (And, contrary your superficial cost/benefit analysis, it increases the cost of birth control by adding an unnecessary layer of administrative costs.)

And not for nuthin', at this stage of my life, all of my sex has no procreative purpose, but I oppose increasing the cost of insurance by making it cover birth control.

paul a'barge said...

In which group are the folk who want to have sex but don't want to get an STD (condom users)?

Freder Frederson said...

Since when is employer provided insurance not earned? It is part of a compensation package. It may not be a particularly good idea, but Rush is full of shit if he doesn't think employer provided health insurance is earned.

Now I realize that since he gets his Viagra and Oxycontin on the black market, that he may not be aware that insurance often covers prescription drugs with no copay after the overall deductible is met.

Eric said...

Why does it seem that only Althouse can point out and analyze interesting things about what el Rushbo says? Or are there mainstream journalists that are doing this that I haven't heard of?

Chris Lopes said...

I am troubled by the Professor's assumption that babies not brought up under idea conditions constitute a burden to society. It comes very close to the early 20th century notions of who should and who should not be breeding. The idea was known back then as eugenics, though now we use the more PC term of "family planning".

I do not believe that a child not born into a middle class Ozzie and Harriet lifestyle will automatically be costing society more. That child has potential, just like everyone else. If we don't want him/her to cost us more, it's up to us to make sure
that he/she gets to fulfill that potential. The idea that people are (because of the circumstances of their birth) a burden just plain wrong.

Freder Frederson said...

With his life story — he's on his 4th wife and has no children — he can't be censorious about those who flout traditional sexual morality.

Not to mention his sex tourism.

He can't?! He called Sandra Fluke a slut!

EDH said...

It's still a separate question who, within those groups, objects to insurance coverage for birth control.

At least in Hobby Lobby, wasn't the issue about each and every type of birth control the government can compel an employer provide through insurance at zero out-of-pocket cost to it employees?

Tyrone Slothrop said...

The (libertarian) conservative says, use contraception if you like. Any moral onus is on you and you alone. The costs and benefits belong to you.

The liberal says, society demands that you restrain your reproductivity. There is no moral onus. You are a cog in our social laboratory, so comply and don't complain.

I prefer the stance that upholds individual liberty.

Todd said...

It's Group 2(B)(ii). These are the people the Hobby Lobby case was about.

But wasn't Hobby Lobby about abortifacients and not about birth control?

Fen said...

"paying for other people to use birth control seems like a way for society as a whole to save money, because I'm picturing planned pregnancies leading to better behaved, more educable children."

Assumes facts not in evidence.

And if true, it means we should buy a man for every single mother. Because if there is any evidence re this, its that boys tend to grow into feral animals when there is not a male role model in the house.

But I've got a better idea. The breadth of human history shows that women have been easily oppressed by men since we all dropped out of the trees and began walking upright.

There's a reason for that - women simply cannot be trusted to handle complex emotional issues like this. Repeal the 19th and let Uncle SugarDaddy take care of them.

Michael K said...

" some women who have to take birth control for health reasons having nothing to do with preventing pregnancy."

That does not include IUDs and the abortifacient type.

What I see is the infantilization of women. I read this piece by Joan Didion and was amused by this part:

One is constantly struck, in the accounts of lesbian relationships which appear from time to time in the movement literature, by the emphasis on the superior "tenderness" of the relationship, the "gentleness" of the sexual connection, as if the participants were wounded birds. The derogation of assertiveness as "machismo" has achieved such currency that one imagines several million women to delicate to deal with a man more overtly sexual than, say, David Cassidy. Just as one had gotten the unintended but inescapable suggestion, when told about the "terror and revulsion" experienced by women in the vicinity of construction sites, of creatures too "tender" for the abrasiveness of daily life, too fragile for the streets, so now one was getting, in the later literature of the movement, the impression of women too "sensitive" for the difficulties and ambiguities of adult life, women unequipped for reality and grasping at the movement as a rationale for denying that reality.

We are back to Victorian women. Freud and the horses thrashing in the street. Eeeeek!

Hagar said...

Just because you planned out when to get pregnant and raise children, does not mean that very many of the "free" crowd does.
In fact, I would lay money on it that if investigated, it would be found that a lot more of the "pay your way" people do. It sort of goes together, doesn't it?

surfed said...

Rush is right. Buy you're own shit. Prognostication - In ten years (2024) when we have another Democrat President/House/Senate there will be a push for free marijuana - medical or otherwise. There is a body of medical opinion that thinks marijuana use kills sperm. Anyways, you heard it here first.

DKWalser said...

Althouse - I don't object to birth control being freely available; I object to it being free. While I buy your argument that free birth control might reduce unwanted pregnancies and might, on that score, be seen as a positive good for society, I still think it poor public policy. (Note: I think that the estimated reduction in unwanted pregnancies is vastly over stated. Free birth control is already available in high schools, many colleges, government sponsored medical clinics, and elsewhere. Still, the number of unplanned pregnancies is fairly high. I doubt adding one more source of fee birth control is apt the move the needle much.)

The reason free birth control is poor policy is because it cheapens sex. It reinforces the view that sex is just another form of recreation -- which lessens sex's ability to act as a glue that helps bind couples together. Long term, I believe viewing sex as no more special than any other form of recreation will have horrendous consequences for our society. We shouldn't be doing anything to reinforce that self-destructive attitude which leads to self-destructive behaviors.

carrie said...

It is a very small group of women who take birth control for health reasons, so don't be fooled by that argument. It is really about sex. And it is misleading to think that birth control pills takes away all of the consequences of sex--unplanned pregnancies still happen, STDS happens, and the negative side effects of hormone based birth control happen. Over 40% of the babies born today are born to unmarried women. My kids are in their early 20s so I know their unmarried friends who are having these babies and almost all of them were on birth control pills and were shocked to find themselves in this situation without a husband/serious boyfriend who will stand by them and help them. It is all about sex, sex, sex and it is sex from a man's point of view, not sex from a woman's point of view. And it is sad that the feminists let this happen.

The Crack Emcee said...

"They are a voting bloc to be massaged and tended, and Rush knows how to do that without having to come across as a hypocrite. With his life story — he's on his 4th wife and has no children — he can't be censorious about those who flout traditional sexual morality. But he can inspire the censoriousness of others. It's a neat trick, and I think he's damned proud of his ability to perform that trick. He should be. It's impressive."

Open admiration for outright lying. Wow.

Leaving the "bad culture" of the ghetto is teaching me so much about how it came to be,...

n.n said...

It's all about liberty, liberty, liberty. Liberty is only suitable and possible for women and men capable of self-moderating, responsible behavior. This is why children and other immature individuals necessarily have their liberty restricted. The demand for subsidized sex, sex, sex; normalization of unproductive or dysfunctional behaviors; as well as the pro-choice doctrine; is evidence that women and men lack that adult skill. The length to which women and men go in order to rationalize the consequences of their demand for instant or immediate gratification without accountability is evidence of progressive corruption, which will inevitably end with a dysfunctional convergence.

That said, the priorities of women and men have been severely skewed. Moral principles are the outcome of reconciliation. Evolutionary principles are not negotiable, either by consensus, decree, or executive order. It's probably not a coincidence that the social complex pursues goals sympathetic to both redistributors and capitalists. They have misconfigured social behaviors to the loss of community, family, and posterity.

That said, the great social experiment must continue. Dissociation of risk is the opiate of the masses, which has been exploited to profitable effect. A large minority, and perhaps majority, of women and men are thoroughly addicted. They will not quietly or willingly forgo their next hit.

Ann Althouse said...

"Can't speak for anyone else, but for me it's all about, and only about, coercion. As in, what are the limits of what the State can force its citizens to do? If any?"

Well, we can't force women to USE birth control.

That's why I think we should make it free so they'll volunteer to do what is good for all of us (which is to plan their pregnancies).

Ann Althouse said...

"That's a very interesting take, and I think that AA's analysis is probably the way it *should* be. However, I disagree that it is the way it is. This is a dispute meant to draw sides between the religious (conservatives) and "those that care about women." It's meant to cause fear of being tarred with the brush of hating women, and to create fear and dependence in women. I don't believe that it really has much at all to do with sex."

Yes and that's why I am saying "Don't get suckered into the War on Women." I do think this is used as if it is about women, and that's why I want to say: Look how it is not. I'm trying to resist propaganda here, trying to help people see through the political exploitation.

Ann Althouse said...

"In which group are the folk who want to have sex but don't want to get an STD (condom users)?"

Are you suggesting that condoms and only condoms should be the birth control of choice for everyone?

That's off because:

1. A condom alone is probably not enough to avoid pregnancy, if you really want to be careful.

2. When you're in a secure, exclusive relationship, you will probably want to use something other than a condom for birth control and don't need the STD protection anymore.

Anonymous said...

I doubt that your analysis of opposition to birth control is true. Celibacy, infertility and homosexuality are probably near zero as factors in this issue. And I imagine that most people who are trying to have a baby have at one time used birth control, so I doubt that their current desire to conceive has much influence over whether they oppose mandated birth control.

So it's group 2Bii that has the problem.

But beyond that, even framing it in these terms is missing a point that you have often been very conscious of and sensitive to: framing the Hobby Lobby (and Little Sisters of the Poor, down the line) case as a case about sex completely capitulates to the false liberal narrative about these things. The left hopes that we frame the issue as about sex, because short of a few stray Catholic true believers and evangelicals, nobody much opposes birth control.

But that's not the issue, any more than forcing the Amish to drive cars would be an issue about cars. The issue is religious freedom. It's what this country was founded on. It's what Hobby Lobby and the Catholic Church care about. The Church has argued against birth control for decades, but hasn't sued over it until the government overreach of Obama.

This case is about the government creating some bizarre right to free birth control where none existed before, and trying to foist its own secular religion on people, businesses, and churches who want none of it.

Why birth control and not heart medication or cancer or AIDS drugs? It's not because the religious right has something against women. It's because the cynical Obama administration knows that its blindly obedient media acolytes can be counted on to frame the birth control thing as a "war on women" and facilitate its being used as an issue.

Call it a sex issue if you want, but that's still a smokescreen to cover up the true problem, which is not a war on women but a war against religion by the left.

n.n said...

carrie:

It's not that feminists let this happen. It's that feminists wanted it to happen. Feminists demanded the power, money, sex, ego, and convenience which they presumed all men enjoyed. They made a general assertion about the hedonistic nature of men and expected equal treatment. Whether their assertion was right or wrong is irrelevant. The goal of normalization is to promote but not ensure functional behaviors, including fatherhood, chivalry, etc. The feminists (and homosexuals, etc.) have exploited the process of normalization in order to devalue those functional behaviors in favor of their hedonistic alternatives. The have been aided by other minority grievance groups, and both their elected and appointed leaders.

tim maguire said...

carrie said...It is a very small group of women who take birth control for health reasons, so don't be fooled by that argument. It is really about sex

True, but that argument was good enough for the Catholic Church, which used it to support use of the pill (it regulates menstruation, with infertility as a side effect).

Michael K said...

"I can't see pajama boy having sex with anybody."

Oh, I can. And they shave once in a while.

Jane the Actuary said...

There was an article a while back about an AIDS medication which was potentially available as a preventative -- for $10,000 or more a year, take a pill every day to prevent the HIV virus from taking hold regardless of exposure.

The article itself didn't have many details so I googled this, and the most detailed article was on a gay site like Out or the Advocate, which basically said, "this is a great idea, because you can't expect gay men to use condoms for the rest of their lives, so insurance should pay for these pills for us." (Though apparently the reason why this hadn't taken off is not just that the pills are expensive but also have undesirable side-effects.)

Ugh. I was too creeped out to blog about it.

But same idea, really -- a positive right to have sex-without-consequences which must be enabled by the government.

(Which is a different issue than whether it's a practical policy for IUDs to be free to anyone who wants one.)

Ann Althouse said...

"Why does it seem that only Althouse can point out and analyze interesting things about what el Rushbo says? Or are there mainstream journalists that are doing this that I haven't heard of?"

Thanks.

I should do this more. I listen to the show quite often (on podcast) and I do it not because I agree but because I want material to challenge and stimulate me. I like things I can react to and I want to be exposed to this kind of argument that I know influences people. Also, it's entertaining if you know how to enjoy it, which I do.

I think most people who don't agree with him just have an aversion, like it's poison. They don't understand the show and how it works. They just hate him and want to get him. They don't credit him for his great wiliness.

Ann Althouse said...

"Re: your statement that birth control leads to "wanted" children which will lead to better behaved and educable children... there is good research showing that since the advent of abortion, child abuse has increased rather dramatically. The thinking is that parents who can choose which children will live will naturally have higher expectations of those children and when the children don't measure up to the "perfect", educable, well-behaved child, abuse begins."

I find that hard to believe.

I think abuse is more likely to come when parents are overstressed and unprepared.

Where are these abuse cases coming from? Are these the planned children of women who have achieved stability in life or are they the unplanned children of women who didn't get birth control right… very young women or unintelligent/uneducated women…

Brando said...

I don't think Pajama Boy types really get much sex--maybe a bit of pity sex, attempted crossing the friend-zone sex, white knight sex--there can't be too much sex to be had for the Pajama Boys. Rather, I think Pajama Boys tend to support whatever their leftist female allies want because of the hope of somehow getting sex someday. They think by white knighting and supporting whatever their leftist female allies want, it might actually get them to have sex with them.

Then, when their leftist female allies go ahead and have sex with apolitical player types anyway--the very guys who likely can't be bothered to use condoms--the Pajama Boys go all angry bitter because they're the "nice guys" who aren't being properly rewarded for being politically righteous.

El Camino Real said...

Am I the only one who sees the moral hazard and long term impracticality in "Sure... we'll give you this free stuff now so you don't cause us more trouble later."?

"And that is called paying the Dane-geld;
But we've proved it again and again,
That if once you have paid him the Dane-geld
You never get rid of the Dane."

n.n said...

Michael K:

It's a process which engenders infantilization of both women and men. Dissociation of risk is the opiate of the masses, not just of women. Although, traditionally, and naturally, it is women who nurture the family, community, etc. So, the infantilization of women has greater long-term consequences for both women and men, and society. The progressive reconciliation of the natural and social order does not promote fitness of individuals, society, or humanity. Just do what feels good, I suppose.

garage mahal said...

Can't speak for anyone else, but for me it's all about, and only about, coercion.

Are you coerced into paying for Limbaugh's Viagra to be used on teenage prostitutes at sex tourism destinations?

BrianE said...

"That's why I think we should make it free so they'll volunteer to do what is good for all of us (which is to plan their pregnancies)."-- AA

Naive version.

That's why I think we should pay them (for taking birth control) so they'll do what is good for all of us (which is to plan their pregnancies).

Reality. Now we're just negotiating the price.

Ann Althouse said...

"The (libertarian) conservative says, use contraception if you like. Any moral onus is on you and you alone. The costs and benefits belong to you. The liberal says, society demands that you restrain your reproductivity. There is no moral onus. You are a cog in our social laboratory, so comply and don't complain. I prefer the stance that upholds individual liberty."

The liberal doesn't propose to force anyone to use birth control. And the liberal doesn't say there is no morality. Like your libertarian, the liberal leaves it to the individual to ascribe morality to sexual behavior and to choose whether to use birth control.

The disagreement is over how to cover the cost of something the individual is free to use or not use and to think about however he or she wants.

EMD said...

That's why I think we should make it free

You keep using that word ... free. I do not think it means what you think it means.

St. George said...

Here is where you go off the rails, Professor:

"To me, thinking pragmatically, paying for other people to use birth control seems like a way for society as a whole to save money, because I'm picturing planned pregnancies leading to better behaved, more educable children."

Love is not pragmatic. Life is not pragmatic.

Who are you to say that if a family has 14 children, some unplanned, that they will be well behaved or more educable?

The notion of paying for other people not to have children is grotesque. Why would I want to collaborate denying spring its flowers?

Anonymous said...

"To me, thinking pragmatically, paying for other people to use birth control seems like a way for society as a whole to save money, because I'm picturing planned pregnancies leading to better behaved, more educable children"

The pill is in existence since (I think) the beginning of the sixties.
Any indication that this has given rise to "saved money" and "better behaved", "more educatable" children?
I would say otherwise. In fact that promise seems to be rather like the promise of the eugenicists, pure BS.

chuck said...


The problem is not cost, it is responsibility. If you think government should control birth for the public good, your best bet is the old school progressive solution: forced sterilization. The conservative position would be to promote responsibility by requiring folks to support their own children. Neither method is likely to work politically in the US, but I suspect that reality will eventually impose the second.

Ann Althouse said...

"I am troubled by the Professor's assumption that babies not brought up under idea conditions constitute a burden to society. It comes very close to the early 20th century notions of who should and who should not be breeding. The idea was known back then as eugenics, though now we use the more PC term of "family planning". "

Obviously, there are troubling things in this area, but I'm less troubled when everything remains a matter of individual decision making and where society as a whole is merely providing incentives (like free birth control).

You cannot seriously contend that the good upbringing of children by their parents is not one of the most important social concerns. This is the next generation upon which we must rely. We want to leave people alone, but at the same time, we need these new citizens to turn out to be productive and not destructive. I'm not saying a child born to a young single woman who has no good way to balance her work with motherhood has no hope, but it will be harder for that child. Everyone knows that!

BrianE said...

That's why I think we should pay them (to take birth control) so they'll do what is good for all of us (which is to plan their pregnancies).

Market version


That's why I think we should force them (to take birth control) to do what is good for all of us (which is to plan their pregnancies).

Statist version

retired said...

" You can see that this is a moral precept"

That's why you don't get it, Ann

Just like freedom of religion and government coercion, you don't get those either.

There are lots of free medical programs where those low information voters can get their Depo shots. And condoms are cheap.

machine said...

...does Rushbo's insurance pay for his viagra? I wonder...

EMD said...

You cannot seriously contend that the good upbringing of children by their parents is not one of the most important social concerns. This is the next generation upon which we must rely. We want to leave people alone, but at the same time, we need these new citizens to turn out to be productive and not destructive. I'm not saying a child born to a young single woman who has no good way to balance her work with motherhood has no hope, but it will be harder for that child. Everyone knows that!

Et tu, Dan Quayle?

Ann Althouse said...

"Open admiration for outright lying. Wow."

Are you kidding? Lying is hard. It's dangerous not to appreciate the skill involved.

Praise for one aspect of a performance is not approval of everything.

For example, what if I witnessed a robbery and expressed amazement at how fast the robber absconded with the cash. It wouldn't be admiring thief. It would be admiring running.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

Ambrose said...

I don't mean to sound like a troll (and I understand the debate over federal mandates), BUT isn't employer-provided healthcare very clearly in the bucket of "stuff we earn by going out and getting a job?"

You don't sound like a troll, that is a reasonable question.

Yes, health insurance from an employer is something that you earn from employment. However, if the government mandates coverage that benefits some people but not others, then the non-beneficiaries are subsidizing the beneficiaries. At that point it becomes a government-transfer-by-other-means.

Ann Althouse said...

"The reason free birth control is poor policy is because it cheapens sex. It reinforces the view that sex is just another form of recreation…"

But to say that is to say that public policy should be used to promote sexual values. I question whether that would even work.

People in my Group 2(B)(ii) have the idea that sex is very uncheap, that it's oneness with all of creation, openness to the gift of life, and anything less than that is wrong or something like that. Well, good for them. But should the government be trying to nudge people into adopting that belief? Or is that the realm of the individual and private associations?

Fernandinande said...

Unknown said ...there is good research showing that since the advent of abortion, child abuse has increased rather dramatically.

Fig 3
"The homicide victimization rate for children under age 14 was the lowest of all age groups, peaking in 1993 at a high of 2.2 homicides per 100,000. By 2004, this rate had declined to the lowest level recorded—1.4 homicides per 100,000—and remained stable through 2008 at 1.5 homicides per 100,000."

traditionalguy said...

Free erectile disfunction drugs seem to be insured items covered without dispute.

Therefore, restraints on women having their sex for free are close to being a war on women.

MayBee said...

But we benefit from all kinds of medicines. Anti anxiety medication and anti depressants make fewer depressed, more productive people. Episode pens mean fewer people having serious asthma and bee sting complications- saving the lives of good people. Insulin means fewer diabetic people miss work, can participate more freely in life. Cancer treatments keep productive people alive and producing.

So the emphasis on birth control being *the * important public good is a problem. It is a big problem because it reduces women while trying to make us feel politically important. But I want people to step back and ask themselves why. Why do we have to be made to feel important in this way?

Is something to keep me from getting pregnant more important than something to keep me alive?

Anonymous said...

Professor, you keep framing the issue as "nobody is forcing women to use birth control." True — we're not China. But that's a distraction from the real object of the force and the real issue. The government is attempting to force people to do something: provide birth control that contradicts their sincerely held religious beliefs.

In claiming to keep us from being distracted from the real argument, you are distracting us from the real argument.

holdfast said...

"That's why I think we should make it free so they'll volunteer to do what is good for all of us (which is to plan their pregnancies)."

I'm afraid I don't think you know a lot of lower class folks. This is the thinking of a "poor" college student, not a member of the lower-working class or underclass. Many of them remain in that status because planning just ain't their thing. If you really want to reduce those pregancies, you'd tie the receipt of government benefits to an annual, implantable contraceptive. Might raise a few liberty issues, but it would be far more effective than making free pills available and hoping that the chronically irresponsible partake.

Roger Sweeny said...

"To me, thinking pragmatically, paying for other people to use birth control seems like a way for society as a whole to save money, because I'm picturing planned pregnancies leading to better behaved, more educable children."

No doubt. However, an astoundingly large amount of people aren't going to have planned pregnancies because they are disorganized or because "I didn't mean to have sex."

About a decade ago, the Freakonomics people published research saying that about half the decrease in crime resulted from legalized abortion, using your logic. More recent research has indicated that the figure is maybe a sixth of that. Lots of women with unplanned pregnancies (which resulted in kids who became criminals) didn't get it together in time to have an abortion.

Rusty said...

Paco nailed it.

"machine said...
...does Rushbo's insurance pay for his viagra? I wonder... "

He doesn't have insurance. He pays as he goes.

Paco Wové said...

"Well, we can't force women to USE birth control."

Those weren't the citizens, or the coercion, that I had in mind.

Bob Ellison said...

The liberal, the modern "liberal", is a leftist, not a "classic liberal".

He/she does indeed think of enforcement of birth control. That is what is killing China right now.

He/she does indeed think there is no morality. Doesn't say so; wouldn't be prudent at this juncture. But does think so.

chillblaine said...

I take issue with the claim that being able to plan pregnancies will save society money. This ignores the epidemiological certainty that random, unprotected exchanges of bodily fluids will lead to drug-resistant pathological outbreaks.

jr565 said...

If we give people free birth control and the abortion rate doesn't go down dramatically what then?

Freder Frederson said...

Yes, health insurance from an employer is something that you earn from employment. However, if the government mandates coverage that benefits some people but not others, then the non-beneficiaries are subsidizing the beneficiaries. At that point it becomes a government-transfer-by-other-means.

This is pretty much the definition of insurance. And insurance (of almost any kind) is heavily regulated at both the State and Federal level.

Your objection certainly can't be that insurance provides benefits to some people at the expense of others. That is how it is supposed to work.

Bob Ellison said...

In The Matrix, Agent Smith says, "Human beings are a disease, a cancer of this planet." This is what leftists believe. Birth control is a modest palliative that can even pass modern rightists.

Pajama Boy wants sex without children. Sex is good; procreation is bad (because humans are bad; I am bad; we are bad; even Pajama Boy is bad, except that he knows he's bad and votes for Obama).

Freder Frederson said...

The reason free birth control is poor policy is because it cheapens sex. It reinforces the view that sex is just another form of recreation.

What utter bullshit. So what, paying for birth control makes one cherish and appreciate sex more.

What happened to the argument that people should pay for their own birth control because it is relatively cheap?

You also must believe that clients of high priced prostitutes are the paragon of virtue. Hey, if your paying $5,000 for a couple hours of sex, you must really believe it is a sacrament.

jr565 said...

Ann Althouse wrote:
You cannot seriously contend that the good upbringing of children by their parents is not one of the most important social concerns.

Sounds like a defense of tradional marriage. So THAT"S why society promoted it above other types of unions.

Freeman Hunt said...

The idea that people who don't use birth control will if it's free is extremely naive. When I was in college, the local Planned Parenthood offered free birth control. And yet, there were still girls getting abortions.

Paying for birth control is really a subsidy for people who are already using birth control.

Todd said...

I'm not saying a child born to a young single woman who has no good way to balance her work with motherhood has no hope, but it will be harder for that child. Everyone knows that!

Really? Everyone knows that? What about a woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle? Today the left and feminism is build on "I don't need no stinkin man".

JimB said...

Well, with birth control methods (condoms, pills, self control) so widely available now, I don't see that having the cost covered by insurance would make that much of a difference. This is a cultural problem that needs a cultural remedy.

John Lynch said...

No one is more pro-choice than young, single, men. And they act like they are being considerate and unselfish toward women.

Exactly the opposite is the case.

Christopher B said...

because I'm picturing planned pregnancies leading to better behaved, more educable children.

I seriously question this. not necessarily in the sense that wanted children wouldn't have advantages even though there are plenty of bad seeds from people who by all accounts should have produced wonderful offsping.

My main issue is that the same people we often assume would be bad parents are usually the same people who have difficult using birth control even if it's free - people who are emotionally immature, have impulse control issues, and poor future time orientation.

Anonymous said...

" So the real division on the birth control issue is not between men and women. It is between 1. men and women who have sex when they don't want children and 2. everyone else. "

No, Ann, the division is between responsible adults, and whining babies.

You want to have non-procreative sex? Great, buy your own damn birth control.

You're not capable of buying birth control? Then you're not competent to have sex. You want us to pay for yours? Fine, we'll pay to permanently sterilize you, because you're a pathetic person who shouldn't be procreating. Ever.

Eeyore Rifkin said...

You're not sympathetic to the prolife viewpoint, Professor, but do you understand it? The distinction between abortion and birth control, which you've elided, is absolutely crucial. When you hide that crucial difference, and refuse to acknowledge the claim that abortion is murder, you may end up in a position of rationalizing mass murder as a natural extension of sexuality.

Rush Limbaugh is mocking the progressive ideology and propaganda of sex, and he's using the image of sex with Pajama Boy as a kind of cacemphaton to drive home the point that the politically dominant bureaucratic view of sex is not as glamorous as it pretends to be. What the discourse is really all about, beyond the sex sex sex, is the problem of good and evil. That is the moralist's position.

Hagar said...

$10/months for condoms has zip to do with planning your pregnancies.

Actually though, we are talking about much more expensive pills which are expensive so that the drug companies can afford extensive lobbying and contributing to Democrat PACs, etc., as well as saturation advertising on TV, which is all, with the possible exception of Fox, Democrat agitprop outlets, so it is one humongous clusterfuck and all good.

Althouse is forgetting to follow the money again.

Anonymous said...

Freder Frederson said...

Since when is employer provided insurance not earned? It is part of a compensation package. It may not be a particularly good idea, but Rush is full of shit if he doesn't think employer provided health insurance is earned.


What part of "benefit" do you not understand? "Benefit" is something that your employer CHOOSES to give to you. Hobby Lobby CHOOSES NOT to give abortificants.

You don't like the BENEFITS your employer CHOOSES to provide? Be an adult. Find a different one.

Or get paid enough so you can afford to buy the things you want.

jr565 said...

If we are going to give free birth control (free as in govt provides meaning tax payers pay for it) but don't force people to use them then all that's really happening is you are making people pay for things they would buy as necessary and instead making people pay for them as a tax.
What about people who aren't using birth control? They must subsidize the people that do. The cost has to come from somewhere. To me it's fairer that you pay for things you use and don't force others to. Should a senior citizen who doesn't have sex be forced to subsidize a lothario as he beds 10,000 women? Is there a limit on the amount of birth control allowed?
And why can't people simply buy it for themselves as they usually do.

Freeman Hunt said...

These proposals make women look stupid, as though they cannot handle the normal financial transactions of the world.

"Omigosh! How will I get food? Other people don't pay for it!"

You don't see men claiming that there's a War on Men because their employers aren't required to provide them with free condoms. The pandering to women is insulting. I'll buy my own birth control, thanks.

Basil said...

"The (libertarian) conservative says, use contraception if you like. Any moral onus is on you and you alone. The costs and benefits belong to you. The liberal says, society demands that you restrain your reproductivity. There is no moral onus. You are a cog in our social laboratory, so comply and don't complain. I prefer the stance that upholds individual liberty."

The liberal doesn't propose to force anyone to use birth control. And the liberal doesn't say there is no morality. Like your libertarian, the liberal leaves it to the individual to ascribe morality to sexual behavior and to choose whether to use birth control.

The disagreement is over how to cover the cost of something the individual is free to use or not use and to think about however he or she wants."
Professor, how can you say this with a straight face? The ACA forces, through penalty of law, employers to provide not ACESS to birth control, but FREE birth control, which means paid for by the company out of company funds.

What more coercion can there be???

Also, its ok to say that you agree with Rush sometimes. You sound like the kids who claims to only read Playboy for the articles.
You know you do, actually agree with him on some things, right?

jr565 said...

traditional guy wrote:
Free erectile disfunction drugs seem to be insured items covered without dispute.

Therefore, restraints on women having their sex for free are close to being a war on women.

erectile dysfunction is not the same as erectile function. Erectile dysfunction is actually a medical condition.

Anglelyne said...

You can see that this is a moral precept, because it takes no account of the costs to all of us when children are born to women who are economically and emotionally unprepared and who do not have a stable household. To me, thinking pragmatically, paying for other people to use birth control seems like a way for society as a whole to save money, because I'm picturing planned pregnancies leading to better behaved, more educable children.

"I'm picturing". Ya know, it really isn't necessary c. 2014 to rely on thought experiments for figuring out if this proposed policy actually leads to the imagined results.

Only in progressive bizarro world does "thinking pragmatically" imply "ignoring all available data".

Hagar: Just because you planned out when to get pregnant and raise children, does not mean that very many of the "free" crowd does.
In fact, I would lay money on it that if investigated, it would be found that a lot more of the "pay your way" people do. It sort of goes together, doesn't it?


How totally counterintuitive! Just because we know that "free stuff" (i.e, an extensive system of paying for other people's contraception) has not led to more responsible reproduction or "better behaved, more educable children", there's absolutely no reason to assume that more free stuff won't get us to the desired result!

tim in vermont said...

Is there a place for "I don't mind paying for abortifacients myself, but I really don't like forcing people to pay for them when they sincerely believe it to be murder?"

Anonymous said...

Ann Althouse writes:

That's why I think we should make it free so they'll volunteer to do what is good for all of us (which is to plan their pregnancies).


You're assuming a fact not in evidence. What is your proof that forcing Catholic and Christian employers to pay for any form of birth control a female employee wants will in any way significantly decrease the undesired birth rate? (I know plenty of people who've had "unplanned" babies, as in they weren't planning on getting pregnant that month. They were planning on getting pregnant next month, or the were happy to have a child come along, but weren't specifically trying to get pregnant. that's entirely different from "I didn't want to get pregnant, but I did." IOW, your language is far too imprecise, counselor.)

"Common sense"? That's just another way to say "I don't care what reality will actually do, all I care about is what's in my head." Where's the solid peer-reviewed (and not ripped apart by conservative commentators that aren't part of the "peer" group) study showing that? Don't have it?

Then you should get it before you start bullying other people, and spending their money on your desires.

jr565 said...

Hobby Lobby's insurance covered all birth control, save abortifacients. So, I don't see why this couldn't be handled by insurance companies as opposed to govt.
As for the abortifacients, maybe you should be able to buy private insurance that covers those individual items, like you pay separately for eye care.

carrie said...

n.n. I agree with everything you said in your post. Also, the debate should not be just about who covers the cost of the birth control method because the cost of the birth control method is small when compared to all of the other costs that flow from the conduct that the use of birth control promotes. Morals can't be left to the individual when the individual's conduct impacts others.

jr565 said...

speaking of eye care how many people are walking around not being able to see, and have to pay hundreds of dollars to buy contacts or glasses or get surgery.
So, why are we not saying that govt should give people free eye care? Doesn't Althouse see the benefit of people not walking around legally blind?
I bought eye insurance, and with the insurance paid a couple hundred bucks for contacts.
Shouldn't I have gotten contacts for free? My being able to see is a higher priority than your being able to fuck frankly. So, shouldn't I get free contacts before you get free birth control?

jr565 said...

Being able to see and hear and speak and breath are more pressing then being able to screw. So if we're going to subsidize medication lets give people cochlear implants, hearing aids, glasses, and asthma medications free before we start giving out condoms.
Priorities, people.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

Freder Frederson said...

This is pretty much the definition of insurance.

Not quite. Insurance guards against loss from unexpected or unpredictable events. As soon as you start covering routine preventative care, you are no longer talking insurance.

Your objection certainly can't be that insurance provides benefits to some people at the expense of others. That is how it is supposed to work.

My objection is to the government mandate to transfer the cost of routine expenses from one group to another.

jr565 said...

Abortifacient insurance should be a separate insurance like dental and Eye. If you need that service you buy that insurance.

Real American said...

the problem is people speaking out of both sides of their mouths screaming that their sex life is no one else's business then demanding it be subsidized by their employers or their neighbors (the tax paying ones). It may be in your interest to avoid pregnancy and there is a cost-free solution to that issue - don't fuck.

We're pretty liberal in this society when it comes to sex, but that doesn't mean everyone is on board with promoting a promiscuous or otherwise irresponsible sexual lifestyle. But it isn't up to me or your employer to bail people out of the consequences of their own personal actions. It's their responsibility. Don't get pregnant if you don't want a child. Avoid the behavior that leads to unplanned pregnancies.

This debate isn't about sex, it's about the consequences of sex. Liberals believe there shouldn't be any. A child is an impediment to your career advancement - just kill it. We'll pay for it. You're a whore? We'll pay for all the pills and rubbers and IUDs you want - no questions asked! Oh, and once you're done fucking, the father is out of the picture. Big government will save you from yourself.

Oh, and guys, just fuck whomever and wherever its convenient for you. Sure, we'll pretend your responsible if the chick forgets to take her pills or doesn't feel like infanticide that day, but other than that, no worries - we'll pay for that, too. Be irresponsible. Be pajama boy. Stay home and play video games. Be a loser baby daddy. Government is here to save you from yourselves - No questions asked.

MayBee said...

Obviously, there are troubling things in this area, but I'm less troubled when everything remains a matter of individual decision making and where society as a whole is merely providing incentives (like free birth control).

Providing free birth control isn't an incentive. It is at best a neutral.

Getting money from the father or the government, getting your boyfriend to have to be tied to you for life, having a baby who will love you when nobody else on earth seems to- those are incentives.

Our number one medical problem in this country is not lack of free birth control, just as our number one education problem isn't campus rape.

Yet here we are. And why is that? We can demand better, ladies.

jr565 said...

Freder Frederson wrote:
This is pretty much the definition of insurance. And insurance (of almost any kind) is heavily regulated at both the State and Federal level.

My assumption was that Althouse was suggesting govt provide free birth control, free from the insurance system. In insurance you usually have to pay a copay. I was understanding that it would be a different program.

Jane the Actuary said...

Here's the ironic thing: Group 2Bii could stand to benefit from the mandate, if the FDA would get its act together and approve the available-in-Europe fertility monitors that are the high-tech equivalent of what's loosely called "the rhythm method."

http://janetheactuary.blogspot.com/2014/07/is-there-moral-hazard-in-free.html

Sebastian said...

"The liberal doesn't propose to force anyone to use birth control. And the liberal doesn't say there is no morality. Like your libertarian, the liberal leaves it to the individual to ascribe morality to sexual behavior and to choose whether to use birth control."

But the liberal does want to force some people to compensate others for their failure to have sex, with or without birth control, responsibly. By requiring public support for private purchase of private birth control, and for the consequences of illegitimate births among the poor, the liberal does not "leave it to the individual to ascribe morality to sexual behavior."

"But to say that is to say that public policy should be used to promote sexual values. I question whether that would even work."

Any public policy promotes some set of values. Public policy that singles out women for special sex-related benefits, or rewards single women for having children, promotes particular sexual values. It is working.

Thorley Winston said...

Paying for birth control is really a subsidy for people who are already using birth control.

That seems to be true of a lot of policies that try to encourage “socially desirable” behavior by subsidizing it. There may be a few marginal cases who change their behavior to receive the subsidies but generally you’re just paying to people to do stuff that they were already doing.

Anglelyne said...

Pajama Boy types having sex, sex, sex. That's what it's all about. Everybody wants it and whatever it takes to make it safe. And if it takes the taxpayers buying women birth control, the men are for it, too.

I had a housemate in college who was involved with a proto-Pajama Boy. (Not a credit to her judgment.) They were both cash-strapped students. When she asked him to go halfsies on the cost of contraception (which she had been paying for), he gave her a look of shocked incomprehension and blurted out "I can't afford that!" She angrily dumped him. (A credit to improved judgment.)

I mention in passing that this fellow who believed that he should have adult freedoms and privileges without paying for them was an über-progressive, contemptuous of all benighted conservative prudes and rubes.

Chaswjd said...

The dividing line is between those who view equality as the moral good which should be behind public policy and those who view karma moral good behind public policy. Having government pay for birth control is the right choice for those who like equality as it means that there will be zero cost outcomes to sexual behavior. (Children will only be born when they are viewed as a positive for their parents.) For those who like karma, having government pay for birth control is not a good. For them, choices should have consequences and costs. If you want to have sex and yet no children, then you have to plan for the consequences of that decision. Society should not bear the costs of someone's poor choices. How much moral hazard are we willing to accept?

Michael K said...

"you'd tie the receipt of government benefits to an annual, implantable contraceptive. Might raise a few liberty issues, but it would be far more effective than making free pills available and hoping that the chronically irresponsible partake. "

Bingo !

People are poor because they make bad choices just as people are homeless because they are crazy.

Sorry if the truth hurts but it is still the truth.

SJ said...

@Ann,

That's why I think we should make it free so they'll volunteer to do what is good for all of us (which is to plan their pregnancies).

You are assuming something, in a way that I think is careless.

Often, making a product available for free means that people who already have some desire or incentive to use the product will use it more readily.

Upthread, this comment was added by Lyssa:
I imagine that AA, and most policy-makers, have lived their lives in the same way that I, and most of my peers, have - being very careful about birth control. It's almost impossible for me to wrap my head around doing it differently. Yet, unplanned pregnancies happen, every day, because people don't, despite having the ability to. My state's Medicaid (and I assume others), pre-ACA, covers birth control from the first dollar, yet unplanned pregnancies among those covered are epidemic.

Do we have good evidence that most "unplanned pregnancies" happen to people who tried to avoid them? How many happened to people who already had access to free or low-cost birth-control?

How do we know that this particular free offer will cause most of those who appear to need the service to take advantage of it?

Ann Althouse said...

"...does Rushbo's insurance pay for his viagra? I wonder..."

Rush has said many times that he is self-insured and intends to continue that way. He's rich enough to do that, and he encourages his far less rich listeners to forgo insurance, and I've heard callers say they weren't signing up even where their income way so low they'd get Medicare... and they were exposing themselves to the "penalty" (tax).

Crunchy Frog said...

A couple thoughts:

Yes, ED pills are covered by insurance, but at tier 3. $60 for 6 pills ain't exactly free.

Oh, and the kind of sex Pajama Boy is getting isn't going to result in pregnancy, but he should probably have condoms on hand nonetheless.

Ann Althouse said...

"You don't see men claiming that there's a War on Men because their employers aren't required to provide them with free condoms. The pandering to women is insulting. I'll buy my own birth control, thanks."

I wish you'd address my point, that the contraceptive coverage is for men and women and the assertions about serving or hurting women specifically are propaganda.

I believe the deep social agenda is to enlist women in controlling their bodies. That it's packaged as something free is a trick.

That it makes conservatives like you push back like that gives their propaganda leverage.

What's really going on is the age-old effort to carry on civilization, to survive into the next generation and the next.

Jane the Actuary said...

What's "really going on" is the age-old effort, on the part of "public health advocates" to move women into user-error-free contraceptive methods.

Women getting all bent out of shape by free pills or lack thereof don't get that it's not about them.

http://janetheactuary.blogspot.com/2014/07/reading-institute-of-medicine.html

MayBee said...

Here's how we can reframe the idea that free birth control is a good incentive to use birth control:

What could be better incentive to use birth control now than to know $10/month will keep you from a pregnancy and a dependent child for the next 18 years? It's so little to pay, when compared to the potential cost! Yet people still do not do it. Are we really to believe that $10 is what stands in the way between them and this kind of analysis?

There are the people who simply won't put the $3 in the parking meter because the meter maid might not come around and give them the$400 ticket. The people who won't go their their free classes in high school because there might be something more fun to do that day and they might not need the information in their future lives.

So why subsidize them, why make the big health argument about subsidizing them and their sex sex sex?

There are long term thinkers of both genders who need medicine to live! But that isn't sexy.

Peter said...

Ann Althouse said, "nobody is forcing women to use birth control."

Yes, but is a refusal to pay for it equivalent to denying some the right to use it?

When people think of preventive medicine, they think of immunizations. Once the concept is stretched to contraception, what else will be mandated? Especially in the context of parity for mental health treatment?

Isn't the use of a fitness center a form of preventive medicine (especially if ordered by a physician)? What if I "need" yoga to relax? A long vacation? A sailboat?

This is, after all, much the logic that extended Roe v. Wade right up to the moment of birth (or perhaps a few moments beyond): a professional could always be found to insist it was necessary to protect the mother's mental health.

In any case, now that preventive care is "free" I expect medical providers to have the brains to start billing practically everything as "preventive."

The camel's nose may be small, but the rest of it may be larger than expected.

Peter said...

'Brando' wrote, "I think Pajama Boys tend to support whatever their leftist female allies want because of the hope of somehow getting sex someday"

For some reason this reminded me of a 1960s propaganda slogan, the one that asserted "Girls say yes to boys who say no [to the military draft]."

In any case, Pajama Boy may be very peeved when he learns that the feminist claim, that nothing quite attracts a women's sexual interest like a guy doing housework, just isn't so.

Although the analysis is probably too deep. Pajama Boy supports free stuff for everyone because the mere fact that he's never been able to support himself proves that the economic game must be rigged. For why else would someone as worthy as Pajamas be unable to land a high-paying sinecure?

Ann Althouse said...

"an astoundingly large amount of people aren't going to have planned pregnancies because they are disorganized or because "I didn't mean to have sex." About a decade ago, the Freakonomics people published research saying that about half the decrease in crime resulted from legalized abortion, using your logic. More recent research has indicated that the figure is maybe a sixth of that. Lots of women with unplanned pregnancies (which resulted in kids who became criminals) didn't get it together in time to have an abortion."

This supports my thinking that a cases to birth control should be as easy as possible. Abortion as the fallback is awful, and the least competent women aren't the best prospects for motherhood. Make it super easy.

You know, the Democrats present this issue as if it's the height of respect for women, but it's really not. It's a social program aimed, in the classic fashion of all human civilization, at dealing with the fecund female body.

That's what it's all about.

MayBee said...

I wish you'd address my point, that the contraceptive coverage is for men and women and the assertions about serving or hurting women specifically are propaganda.

It's only half true, though.

The contraception men can choose- condoms and vasectomies- are not mandated to be covered. That's for propaganda purposes- to win women voters who need to think this helps women specifically.

holdfast said...

@Ann

Men CAN certainly benefit from women getting "free" BC Pills - BUT, if they think they are thusly protected they are idiots. The woman can at any time choose to start flushing the pills down the toilet and only the suddenly transgender fish will know about it until she hits him with a bill for child support.

Ann Althouse said...

""I'm picturing". Ya know, it really isn't necessary c. 2014 to rely on thought experiments for figuring out if this proposed policy actually leads to the imagined results. Only in progressive bizarro world does "thinking pragmatically" imply "ignoring all available data"."

I was writing a sentence in a blog post, so I didn't stop to write a book. I notice that you didn't lay out your data. But you gesture at it, in the manner of references to settled science. I had the modesty to say "I'm picturing."

I consider my approach more virtuous.

Chris Lopes said...

"You cannot seriously contend that the good upbringing of children by their parents is not one of the most important social concerns. This is the next generation upon which we must rely. We want to leave people alone, but at the same time, we need these new citizens to turn out to be productive and not destructive. I'm not saying a child born to a young single woman who has no good way to balance her work with motherhood has no hope, but it will be harder for that child. Everyone knows that!"

I'm not contending that at all. I am just not assuming that an unplanned or unwanted baby automatically constitutes a burden to society (the pragmatic reason given for free birth control). A child born in poor circumstances is still a vital human being full of potential. If we as a society decide to allow that potential to succeed (yes, easier said than done), then the child can be of benefit to society. That the child exists does not mean he/she is a burden.

Sebastian said...

"I believe the deep social agenda is to enlist women in controlling their bodies."

Right: controlling their bodies themselves for themselves, at other people's expense, partly for purposes not approved by those other people, with the attempt at enlistment itself empowering progressives. But you are right to imply that any ostensible extension of benefits also entails dependence and state control.

Of course, all that control differs from the moral code to which Rush apparently alludes: that individuals are charged as individuals to seek the good, that they are responsible for their actions in light of universal norms. Which implies that the state's forceful imposition of a particular conception of the good that in effect excludes such moral responsibility is itself evil.

Anonymous said...

I apologize if this comment is repetitive. I'm going to comment first and read the comments second.

Althouse is wrong when she says its about men and women. Its not. Its just about the women.

The women's rights movement refuses to recognize the differences between men and women. If a boy has sex at a young age, it barely has an effect on the rest of his life. It probably has an equal chance of having a positive effect as negative. But I'd wager more likely positive. If a girl has sex, it has all sorts of negative consequences. Usually because she learns the cold hard truth that boys don't give a rats ass for her. All they care about is using her for sex. This causes a girl emotional and sometimes physical issues. It also causes intimacy issues later in life as they begin to change and believe all men are like the men they have sex with and start to act accordingly towards all men. Then are surprised to be called a slut.

But the women's rights movement pretends girls are no different than boys. Therefore, sex is always great! There is no emotional or spiritual element to it. Let's encourage it anyway we can! Yay!

These people are fools and are running the show.

Let's see how long fools can run the show for before the consequences are too great to continue to deny.

Ann Althouse said...

"I am just not assuming that an unplanned or unwanted baby automatically constitutes a burden to society."

Nor am I assuming that. Any given child in existence is an important individual, and we invest great resources in that belief.

But policy looks at tendencies and trends. How can we improve the odds?

Chris Lopes said...

"Abortion as the fallback is awful, and the least competent women aren't the best prospects for motherhood."

Yeah, that's the logic the eugenicists also used. Except that they decided whole "races" of people were too incompetent to be parents and had to be persuaded not to breed. While I agree with the idea that some people shouldn't be parents, that doesn't mean I'm comfortable with the idea that any of us are any good at choosing (even indirectly through government incentives) who should and who should not have children. The assumption that people who will not use birth control unless it is free, should not be making babies seems flawed.

joshbraid said...

No, it is not all about sex, it is all about orgasm. Your sloppy use of the word "sex" causes lot of intellectual problems that are currently fashionable. The problem you are addressing is with people who engage in sexual reproduction when they only want orgasm. Separating orgasm from sexual reproduction has its own pluses and minuses. Engaging in sexual reproduction and attempting to stop reproduction is definitely a moral and an ethical problem, with lots of negative consequences for all.

Deanna said...

Ann,
You should reread your Brat post.
http://althouse.blogspot.com/2014/06/do-you-want-to-ask-how-cantor-went.html?m=1
Some of us, being ideologues not pragmatists, do not want to be fixed at gunpoint. Some of us think the State is completely uninterested in our well-being. Some of us would like our pragmatic fellows to start thinking about whys instead of hows.

MikeDC said...

To me, thinking pragmatically, paying for other people to use birth control seems like a way for society as a whole to save money, because I'm picturing planned pregnancies leading to better behaved, more educable children.

Ann, this is such bullshit. There's no public savings to be had from distributing free birth control at all.

If we're talking pure economics, the money to be "saved" comes from inducing the very small group of people having sex but not currently using birth control to use it. This is the tiny group that creates a big expense for society.

There is no money to be saved by paying for the birth control of the much larger group of those who are already using birth control. Only money to be spent.

That is, it's criminally wasteful from a public expenditure perspective.

If saving money were any sort of goal, a free birth control program would be limited to persons who literally can't afford it (which is, of course, approximately 0% of the population).

In practice, these programs are widely prevalent, of course.

So basically, there's no economic upside to this whatsoever.

Chris Lopes said...

"How can we improve the odds?"

By improving the environment the child grows up in. Not being born doesn't improve your odds of success.

MnMark said...

My objection to socialist provision of birth control is not about sex. It's about socialism. The argument is always "we'll save more money for society by providing [fill in the blank] through a socialist government program". But it's totally a slippery slope program. You can make that argument about virtually anything - and the socialists do. At one time it was education, then health care, now birth control. In the future it will be food, shelter, transportation, and everything else.

Socialists will always say "we'll save money by eliminating the profit motive". That's their fundamental (and flawed) understanding of economic man. This has to be rolled back or we will end up like Venezuela, with toilet paper shortages, power blackouts, and lots of blame for all the economic collapse on "capitalists" and "racists" and all the rest of their claptrap.

Paul Ciotti said...

I think everyone should delay sex till the population drops to the point where I can find a camping spot in Big Sur on Memorial Day weekend.

David said...

There are more categories.

And No, Medicare does not pay for Viagra and its cousins.

Freeman Hunt said...

I wish you'd address my point, that the contraceptive coverage is for men and women and the assertions about serving or hurting women specifically are propaganda.

I'll agree with that to a point. (Not all the way because it doesn't cover birth control that men traditionally buy.)

As a woman, I find this propaganda particularly distasteful. It's really insulting.

I believe the deep social agenda is to enlist women in controlling their bodies. That it's packaged as something free is a trick.

I think that's likely but that the desired outcome is unlikely. Women who want to control their fertility already do.

That it makes conservatives like you push back like that gives their propaganda leverage.

I don't understand why my type of pushback should give them leverage. They're insulting me. They're basing a policy on the assumption that people in my category of identity are irresponsible, childlike. It reeks of the most base sexism.

DKWalser said...

@Althouse

"The reason free birth control is poor policy is because it cheapens sex. It reinforces the view that sex is just another form of recreation…"

But to say that is to say that public policy should be used to promote sexual values. I question whether that would even work.

People in my Group 2(B)(ii) have the idea that sex is very uncheap, that it's oneness with all of creation, openness to the gift of life, and anything less than that is wrong or something like that. Well, good for them. But should the government be trying to nudge people into adopting that belief? Or is that the realm of the individual and private associations?


Here government can either take an action or it can refuse to act. You're arguing that by not acting (not providing free birth control) government is impermissibly promoting sexual values. Seriously?

I think my argument is far stronger: By acting (providing free birth control), government is promoting the values associated with promiscuous sex. Government would be inserting itself where it historically had no role -- providing free birth control and thereby both encouraging its use and promoting the notion that having sex is of no more moral weight than viewing a baseball game.

I think I understand where you're coming from (unless you're playing devil's advocate). In your view, this is ONLY a public health issue. To reduce the public health consequences associated with unplanned pregnancies, you believe government should provide free birth control. My point is that the provision of free birth control cannot be done without government also endorsing recreational sex.

Let's take the sex out of it and, instead, talk about drugs. Social conservatives argue that certain drugs should be outlawed, in part, to communicate the message that society disapproves of their use. That's a moral message. Libertarians argue that government should neither prohibit nor provide such drugs. That position, too, contains a moral message. (Government is indifferent to the use of such drugs.) Suppose the use of such drugs was not only legal, but government provided them for free. Wouldn't that also contain a moral message? Of course it would. So, too, does the provision of free birth control.

Brando said...

"Although the analysis is probably too deep. Pajama Boy supports free stuff for everyone because the mere fact that he's never been able to support himself proves that the economic game must be rigged. For why else would someone as worthy as Pajamas be unable to land a high-paying sinecure?"

It's probably true that the Pajama Boys of the world already form their belief systems on the hope of getting free stuff because they can't do anything positive for society that might get them paid, my guess is they were molded that way by a culture that has taught them that they can be morally superior by having the "right" opinions on everything. This leads to becoming the friendzoned asexual lumps that cling on to the Left Female, forever hoping that one day she will stop chasing "jerks" (i.e., apolitical bad boy player types) and finally find romantic interest in Pajama Boy.

damikesc said...

As I said a few days ago , if I am fucking a girl, I have some onus to help pay for contraceptives.

If I'm not, there is literally no reason for ME to financially support it.

That's why I think we should make it free so they'll volunteer to do what is good for all of us (which is to plan their pregnancies).

Been free with Medicaid for years. Shockingly, women irresponsible enough to expect me to pay for them to have random, meaningless sex aren't likely to be more responsible in regards to taking the Pill.

If you aren't responsible enough to get your own BC, it seems naive to expect that you'll take it daily if you're given it for free.

People in my Group 2(B)(ii) have the idea that sex is very uncheap, that it's oneness with all of creation, openness to the gift of life, and anything less than that is wrong or something like that. Well, good for them. But should the government be trying to nudge people into adopting that belief? Or is that the realm of the individual and private associations?

They are taking my money, by force, to pursue this.

At least muggers don't expect you to smile after they hit you up.

You want FREE birth control? Then we should only cover sterilization.

66 said...

Why does Richard Kopf get a tag, but pajama boy does not? You are much more likely to blog again about PJB (I believe you already have posted multiple times regarding him) than about RK.

Anglelyne said...

AA: I was writing a sentence in a blog post, so I didn't stop to write a book. I notice that you didn't lay out your data. But you gesture at it, in the manner of references to settled science. I had the modesty to say "I'm picturing."

Of course, Prof. That the preceding decades of expanding "reproductive services" is not correlated with more responsible reproduction, more stable households, and "better behaved and more educable children" is a claim so outrageous and counter to any minimally alert layman's observations on illegitimacy rates, levels of use of various public assistance programs, etc., that the burden of proof must lie with those expressing skepticism about the benefits you "picture" for the practice. A reasonable person musing on prudent public policy would naturally start with the assumption that the trends in the data related to the above phenomena cannot be causally related to the policies you promote, nor have any other than a positive effect on them.

I had the modesty to say "I'm picturing.

If piling more and more grandiose claims - "[w]hat's really going on is the age-old effort to carry on civilization" - on an unsupported premise, then I suppose you're being modest. (Since you claim I too am only "gesturing" rather than "laying out data", we can both plume ourselves on this virtue.)

I consider my approach more virtuous.

That goes without saying.

Bruce Hayden said...

Paying for birth control is really a subsidy for people who are already using birth control.

That is really part of the problem. As I pointed out in a previous thread, a lot of slight of hand going on here. The females who would benefit the most from free birth control already mostly have it, in the form of Medicaid and the like. And, don't avail themselves of it. We are talking mostly teenagers here, who could theoretically delay childbearing, and, thus at least finish high school, but don't.

Would Sandra Flake, and her friends in law school have suffered that much if they had not had free birth control? Unlikely. First, it is quite possible for women to have kids in law school, and still do well. Takes more work, but not as important after the first year or so. And, sure, maybe their careers might advance faster initially, if they delay childbearing until later. But, that really means until they are partners, maybe meaning their early 30s. And, even then, it isn't clear that their long term careers would suffer if they had had their children while in law school, instead of at 30 - just that by their early 30s, they have traded a lot of fertility for this delay. Yes, an extreme example, but made relevant by Flake being the poster girl of free birth control (interestingly, she was a bit older than most LS women, and thus already into the territory of reduced fertility).

To restate - there are young females who might benefit from free contraception because they are young enough that a pregnancy is going to destroy their chances to advance in life. But they already mostly have free contraception, but quite often don't use it anyway (sometimes through failure to do what is best for their long term benefit, and sometimes because of the financial incentives to have children inherent in our welfare system). And, you have women who will use birth control, but are mostly already paying for it, or finding it free. The first class isn't going to use BC, and the second will use it regardless. Which leaves very, very few young women in the middle, who would use birth control, but only if provided free as a result of a federal mandate. The reality is that the first group, who won't or don't use free BC, is being used to justify society paying for BC for the second group, who already would and most often do use such.

tim maguire said...

Peter said...'Brando' wrote, "I think Pajama Boys tend to support whatever their leftist female allies want because of the hope of somehow getting sex someday"

For some reason this reminded me of a 1960s propaganda slogan, the one that asserted "Girls say yes to boys who say no [to the military draft]."


This stuff makes me think of the brilliant observation that no woman ever fantasized about being ravaged by a hippie.

Bruce Hayden said...

My objection to socialist provision of birth control is not about sex. It's about socialism. The argument is always "we'll save more money for society by providing [fill in the blank] through a socialist government program". But it's totally a slippery slope program. You can make that argument about virtually anything - and the socialists do. At one time it was education, then health care, now birth control. In the future it will be food, shelter, transportation, and everything else.

You are forgetting an important one - eugenics. Only those who believed that all must contribute to their definition of the common good could be willing to sacrifice the child rearing potential of others for the sake of this putative common good. While we saw it proposed by our early progressives, it really gained its bad name when imposed by the National Socialist German Workers' Party. And, then later, by the People's Republic of China.

Bruce Hayden said...

Others have pointed this out before - but the Pajama Boys don't get that much sex, at least with women. The basic problem is that with sex being decoupled from marriage, females seem to be mating much more as their lower level instincts would drive them - with males whom they see as having superior genetics - alpha males, and pretend alpha males (i.e. "players").

The later programming for preferring beta male husbands over alpha male sperm donors is fairly recent in our genetic history - at least since we diverged from the other apes (approx 7.5 million years ago). Human females seem to have always experienced a tension between these two imperatives, as indicated by their preference during ovulation towards alphas, but otherwise to their beta mates, as well as the large number of females who apparently cuckold their mates, and then pass of the offspring as their husbands'.

No more. With sex separated from marriage, there is little incentive to settle for the beta males, when there are alphas available. Sure, they have to share the alphas, but since marriage and childrearing are not involved, there is little incentive not to.

hombre said...

Here's the Prof perpetuating the pretext that couples don't use birth control because it is not affordable. LOL.

I remember years ago when Ann Coulter said, "Abortion is to accommodate women who want to have unprotected sex with men they don't want to father their children."

A condom costs less than a coke.

It's all about the sex - obviously.

Anonymous said...


"You cannot seriously contend that the good upbringing of children by their parents is not one of the most important social concerns."

And yet you support homosexual marriage, which then requires children will be raised by men only, or by women only.

Because of the important social concern of child upbringing, we ought to deny homosexual marriage, and only allow single parents to raise their own natural born children.

garage mahal said...

That supposedly grown adults refer to "pajama boys" in a debate about heath care policy shows just how fucked this country really is. It's supposed to be some sort of insult towards liberals, but it doesn't even make sense.

Ann Althouse said...

"But the women's rights movement pretends girls are no different than boys. Therefore, sex is always great! There is no emotional or spiritual element to it. Let's encourage it anyway we can! Yay!"

The women's rights movement doesn't do this. You seem to be mixing it up with the Playboy Philosophy.

Women may want too many inconsistent things: great sex and great relationships and great jobs and great children, etc. But they/we are critical of the kind of sex men may think they can get away with taking/providing. And we don't think that what works for men will work for women. It's a much more ambitious project of changing the world so it suits the needs of women which are different.

Everyone knows women's bodies are different and that the reproductive capacity and the dramatic effects of pregnancy and childbirth make sex very different for women. This is why birth control matters, and health care matters. It's more expensive, on average, to have a female body, and yet everyone in the world is dependent on women using those bodies to keep humanity going. Women deserve the utmost support in a free society because we all need women (at least some of the women) to do the hard physical work of bearing children and it must be voluntary.

carrie said...

Why is the government promoting sex like this? What greater good is being accomplished that outweighs the health benefits of monogamy and the benefits that result from children being raised in intact two parent families (e.g., lower poverty rates, do better in school, commit fewer crimes, etc.? Why aren't condoms included in the free birth control because at least they help prevent STDs? And so on . . .

MayBee said...

I don't understand why my type of pushback should give them leverage. They're insulting me. They're basing a policy on the assumption that people in my category of identity are irresponsible, childlike. It reeks of the most base sexism.

Exactly. That's why these types of policies and policy discussions are hurtful to women, rather than neutral or helpful to women.

Gahrie said...

Open admiration for outright lying. Wow.

Talk about biting the hand that feeds you.

Ungrateful troll.

Brando said...

One theme that keeps getting brought up in this Hobby Lobby discussion is that employees are not asking for something for nothing, but rather are entitled to have their employer sponsored health coverage include free birth control. This isn't mooching, in other words, but compensation for employees.

This misstates what is actually going on here. Part of the fundamental problem I (and many other ACA critics) have with the ACA is that it requires employers to provide health coverage of any type--forget the contraception coverage issue for a minute--when employer benefits should be a matter of negotiation between employee and employer. Many employees would prefer more pay in exchange for fewer benefits, and I know many 1099s who prefer 1099 status for just that reason. It is absurd that we even have employer provided health care as a norm, when the only reason to keep it is inertia. Individual plans make far more sense and would be better for both the job market and the health care market.

So for most of us this isn't even so much "why should employers provide free contraception" as it is "why should government be telling employers that their compensation to their employees have to take the form of health benefits at all?" I for one think contraception is terrific, and wish more women and men used it--and it's a nice perk of an employer wishes to offer it free as part of an employee health plan. But for government to decide what is best for every employee and that rather than subsidize it directly the government should instead make employers carry out this social policy, is just stupid and overbearing. And the Court was right to shoot it down.

Gahrie said...

Yes and that's why I am saying "Don't get suckered into the War on Women." I do think this is used as if it is about women, and that's why I want to say: Look how it is not. I'm trying to resist propaganda here, trying to help people see through the political exploitation.

So your solution to the problem of political manipulation and emotional coercion, is to give the people doing the manipulation and coercion what they want?

Anglelyne said...

AA: We want to leave people alone, but at the same time, we need these new citizens to turn out to be productive and not destructive.

This is not what people disagree on. You make it sound like thinking about "the future of civilization" is some wild new idea that progressives just came up with. The disagreement is not about the sometime necessity of coercion for the greater good, or the value of freedom, but about what, and who, gets coerced, and what, and who, gets left alone, in the pursuit of social goods and "our future".

Ann Althouse said...

"You should reread your Brat post.
http://althouse.blogspot.com/2014/06/do-you-want-to-ask-how-cantor-went.html?m=1
Some of us, being ideologues not pragmatists, do not want to be fixed at gunpoint. Some of us think the State is completely uninterested in our well-being. Some of us would like our pragmatic fellows to start thinking about whys instead of hows."

Okay, I reread it. It's about the locus of morality remaining with the individual and the danger of outsourcing moral reasoning to government. I don't think it's inconsistent with what I've said here. Individuals are making their own decisions about sex and reproduction. You'll have to connect that to what's covered by insurance. Government is forcing insurance to cover birth control. How is that government taking over morality? And if you find a way to say that it is, you'll need to fend off the argument that government excluding birth control (and abortion!) is government taking over morality, discouraging disapproved of matters because they are regarded as morally wrong/questionable/not morally good.

Anonymous said...

"I'm less troubled when everything remains a matter of individual decision making and where society as a whole is merely providing incentives (like free birth control)."

Do you know anything about economics?

Incentives are EVERYTHING.

You can't just say 'we'll provide incentives, and since people have a choice, that makes it all fine.'

A large portion of the power DC has usurped from the States has come from incentive. We control the purse, we can print debt money, you cannot.

Do x y and z if you want access to the money printer. Otherwise, you get nothing.

Incentives work. You can't call for incentives then not take responsibility for what these incentives directly result in.

You know, cause and effect and all that. Also, it's not 'free'. You're just assuming that because of your ideology that assumes planned kids are better.

The world is far more complicated than you're calculating here. You're looking at one specific metric. These changes cause ripple effects. Nobody is smart enough to predict these ripple effects. Including you. The fact that you speak so authoritatively on the matter as if you know what the incentive will result in before the fact is more than a little arrogant.

Gahrie said...

What's really going on is the age-old effort to carry on civilization, to survive into the next generation and the next.

Actually no. If this was what we were interested in, we'd make birth control and abortion illegal.

What is really going on is the exact opposite...we are eliminating entire populations. (actually we're getting them to eliminate themselves) Margret sanger is cheering in Hell.

Ann Althouse said...

Lots of comments, but I'm not seeing answers to the questions that end the post: "Is your view of the birth control coverage issue related to the way you feel — be honest! — about the sex other people are having? If you rankle — like Rush — at other people wanting you to pay for their stuff — is it about sex?"

I'm hearing the same political arguments, most of it in the form that Rush put it (i.e., don't make me pay for your stuff), and I was hoping for some new contemplation of our deeper intuitions about sex. I thought we could learn something about why we have the political positions we do if we opened that door and saw what was there.

jr565 said...

I've been buying condoms at drug stores and lately through amazon.
I are you saying they could have been free the whole time?

Chris Lopes said...

"Women deserve the utmost support in a free society because we all need women (at least some of the women) to do the hard physical work of bearing children and it must be voluntary."

In this country (outside of The Handmaiden's Tale) bearing children is voluntary. Access to birth control is already easy and relatively cheap. Making it free doesn't mean it will be used any more often (and by the people you think should be using it) than it is now. Even if the classed based assumptions on who should be having babies and who shouldn't are correct, providing free birth control doesn't sound like it will "improve the odds" much.

Deanna said...

I am not making an argument about the morality of sexual choices, per se, though that's the focus of your post. I'm arguing with you because I think that is an issue way down the decision tree and we need to step back. I'm saying 1) the State has its own interests which do not coincide with ours, individually, therefore 2) it's coercive power should be limited. The moral issue here isn't sexual behaviour, it's State power. I also do not think abortion and contraception are the same, since one of those things is murder. Given that I am arguing for something closer to the Night Watchman State not anarchy, murder would be one of those things I am willing to have the State point a gun at someone to prevent.

Chris Lopes said...

We aren't answering the question Professor, because we've rejected the assumption behind it. No, not wanting to pay for someone else's birth control has nothing to do with sex. I actually don't care what other people do or don't do in that area, or how often they do it. It's none of my business.

jr565 said...

garage wrote:
Are you coerced into paying for Limbaugh's Viagra to be used on teenage prostitutes at sex tourism destinations?

wow you sound so judgmental. Are you a prude now?

Ignorance is Bliss said...

I thought we could learn something about why we have the political positions we do if we opened that door and saw what was there.

My feelings about both are strongly related:

Neither their birth control, nor their sex, are any of my business.

Big Mike said...

... because I'm picturing planned pregnancies leading to better behaved, more educable children.

That might be true in theory, Professor, but in the real world -- and I sent my sons to majority minority schools -- it is simply not consistent with reality.

You ask some pointed questions which I can only answer for myself.

"Is your view of the birth control coverage issue related to the way you feel — be honest! — about the sex other people are having? If you rankle — like Rush — at other people wanting you to pay for their stuff — is it about sex?"

No. I think both readily obtainable birth control and access to safe abortion are good things. Whether they ought to be government-supplied via an employer mandate is more debatable. As regards Hobby Lobby and Wheaton College, I think it is appalling that irreligious individuals would think to place themselves in judgment on the conscience of those wishing to opt out of aspects of the mandate.

Deanna said...

I haven't answered your questions because while I think sexual morality is interesting generally, it isn't in this context. You are interested in how we communicate with each other about these matters and what is says about the state of our beliefs but examining those issues in a policy framework is what leads us into error in the first place. The State cannot cannot fix these things. Human behavior is too complex. The fact that we are talking about mandating any financial product tells you how far down the wrong road we are. Furthermore, I think policy people whistle past the graveyard when they propose these fixes. The modern history of humanity is in large part a story of policy failure, yet we keep at it. Why? See aforementioned misaligned interests.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

Women deserve the utmost support in a free society because we all need women (at least some of the women) to do the hard physical work of bearing children and it must be voluntary.

If this is going to be a free country shouldn't the support be voluntary? If only we could find some sort of arrangement that could pair up women who want support for their child-bearing with men who wish to support them.

Anonymous said...

Althouse, don't complain that people aren't following your topic and answering your questions exactly, when you routinely allow inane, totally unrelated blather in comment threads.

Your moderation is completely inconsistent. People respond to incentives.

When you allow Crack to rant about whitey and generalize in a completely racist way in almost every thread, you can't expect comments to toe your specific little line, now can you?

I notice you didn't approve my comment about the economics. Why? It's something you routinely ignore on this topic, now you're not going to approve the comments pointing it out?

SJ said...

@Ann,

if you wish to ask whether it is about sex...

The story-tellers and culturally-dominant forces in the United States have spent something like 60 years selling a new story about sex.

The old order had, at its core, a vision in which sexual intercourse was supposed to be part of a long-term pair-bond which was (potentially) the core of a new family.

The new order treats sexual intercourse as an expression of personal love, or as a form of recreation which is supposed to be separated from procreation.

Each of these sides think that the other side is trying to force some libertine/restrictive view down the throat of the other side.

There are also asides into theories of human nature, the meaning of relationships, and the relationship between religion, morality, sexual behavior, and cultural approval.

But all this cycles around that core disagreement.

(Rush made a strong argument which depended on an assumption that favors negative-rights. But he didn't mention much about how a culture that assumes positive-rights interacts with a culture dominated by negative-rights thinking. I think that Megan McArdle has a better exposition of that distinction, if you wish to study it further.)

sdharms said...

"To me, thinking pragmatically, paying for other people to use birth control seems like a way for society as a whole to save money, because I'm picturing planned pregnancies leading to better behaved, more educable children. "
If that is your picture then you are living in fantasy land.

Opfor311 said...

I've wondered why it is that the 20 forms of Birth Control are so necessary that they must be provided free of charge, while other drugs, such as statins, antibiotics, or insulin still require a co-pay? Why is it better for people to have to have a co-pay on drugs that may save or prolong their lives, but the ones that are primarily used for birth control are not?

CStanley said...

I'm probably in the minority and wouldn't phrase my feelings the way you do in the morality question, but generally my answer to the question is yes. Since I don't think the separation of sex into recreative and procreative functions is healthy, I don't support it and don't wish to have to finance it.

Of course even that ignores that most of the pushback against the ACA mandate is over abortive types of birth control, which takes it to a whole different level.

As for the point about men and birth control, I'm surprised that this is surprising. I have long felt that men are driving the pro-BC and pro-abortion agenda, and that the natural female position is the opposite of that.

SMGalbraith said...

It's not about sex, Althouse.

It's about personal responsibility.

Conservatives always make this argument about "free" things.

Limbaugh said the same thing about ACA/Obamacare when it was being debated. "Free healthcare".

rhhardin said...

The war against women is about the idiocy of a large voting bloc of women.

They're the audience.

Skeptical Voter said...

Ah Pajama Boy. While we're talking about sex, I'd have to observe that in engaging in whatever kind of sex Pajama Boy likes, I'd warrant that there's zero risk of conception.

Ann Althouse said...

Thanks, CStanley.

Bruce Hayden said...

Why is it better for people to have to have a co-pay on drugs that may save or prolong their lives, but the ones that are primarily used for birth control are not?

I think that phrasing this as involving "birth control" helps misframe the debate. I think that you should be contrasting life saving drugs with the financing of recreational sex. This should not be minimized - most contraception is used to facilitate recreational sex, because the it mostly prevents pregnancies, which is contrary to goals of the other type of sex - procreative.

That contraception is primarily used to facilitate recreational sex is downplayed by those who want free contraceptives for everyone. In my view, the discussion is far different from the original contraception cases, where the debate was whether the government should be able to enter the (initially marital) bedroom to police sexual matters. For me, the question then was little different than whether the government should be actively preventing me from riding a bicycle, or skiing. Now, it is why should I, at an age when then the women pretty much can't get pregnant, supporting the recreational sex of those who are getting a lot more than I am. To me, little different than supplying the millennial generation with free bicycles, or movie tickets (except not to D’Souza’s new movie - e.g. Obama backer Costco just pulled his book from its stores).

n.n said...

Ann Althouse:

I agree, women do deserve our support. We already have suitable structures to provide that support. It begins with a mother and father, continues to marriage, then the couple sharing responsibility for raising their children, and time-sharing to partake in other opportunities this world has to offer. The responsibilities can be further shared with family, relatives, friends, and neighbors. The primary consequence of government intervention was to disrupt traditional relationships and provide incentives to displace them. What sounded good on paper, has actually promoted development of a looser society.

Rockport Conservative said...

I am not sure the people who want to abort their babies, and that is what that particular case was about, not birth control per se, are the type people we want to be raising the next generation. I don't want to pay for those, but the Hobby Lobby owners are perfectly willing to pay for true birth control as in contraception. I was surprised to find they actually included condoms and vasectomy in the list of covered items. Somehow the media made this all about "women's health."

CStanley said...

I thought we could learn something about why we have the political positions we do if we opened that door and saw what was there.

I think I have plugged this book here before because so many of your posts remind me of it:
The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided By Politics and Religion by Jonathan Haidt. (Sorry, don't know how to link to your Amazon portal.)

Highly recommend it though...its a fun read while also informing. He is a moral psychologist and an atheist and political liberal who learned to understand and respect socially conservative positions by studying the psychology behind them.

One important point he makes is that we all believe that we reason ourselves into our political beliefs but the reality is that we feel them instinctively and then rationalize them.

Joe said...

Will men get free condoms? Free vasectomies?

(BTW, my youngest daughter takes the pill for health reasons. It costs $9.90 a month, less than one of my drugs cost.)

CWJ said...

Freder Frederson @ 11:55,

I'm sorry to comment more than 6 hours after you. And I'm not wholeheartedly endorsing the original commenters statement. But your understanding of "the definition of insurance" is equal to that of a woodchuck gazing up at the sun and contemplating nuclear fusion.

Larry Nelson said...

garage wrote:
Are you coerced into paying for Limbaugh's Viagra to be used on teenage prostitutes at sex tourism destinations?

Well garage,
If your daughter had sex with Limbaugh, she might make some money.
If your daughter had sex with Clinton, she might have to put some ice on that lip.

Anonymous said...

I am in 2 B ii, those who think birth control is wrong. I am an evangelical Christian who sees children as a gift from God. He sometimes gives this gift to people who don't even want it!

I am posting to raise a side issue--the consequence of people like me feeling that "of the people, by the people, for the people" has become "sit down, shut up, and give me your money." I am losing interest in this form of government. I count the Pilgrims and the writers of the Declaration of Independence as good examples. I don't know what I will do in the future but I may be pushed until I do something other than just pay taxes that go to purposes I don't support. Liberals should not assume they will get my money.

MayBee said...

Lots of comments, but I'm not seeing answers to the questions that end the post: "Is your view of the birth control coverage issue related to the way you feel — be honest! — about the sex other people are having? If you rankle — like Rush — at other people wanting you to pay for their stuff — is it about sex?"

The way people are answering *does* answer the question "is it about sex?"

But no, it isn't, except for the fact that sex is being used to sell a new benefit to gain votes from people who donate a lot of money to the political people who created the new benefit.

It's no more about not liking sex than being against public unions is about not liking it when people work.

The MY BODY! crowd bugs me, because of course it's my body if I have some other condition for which I want medicine, too. But their needs come first, and it is- for them- because of sex.

Renee said...

2Bii

Fertility is a sign of health not illness. The Pill has nothing to do with 'health', it may mask symptoms of unhealthy cycles but does NOT correct and make cycles healthy.

I would pay for gender reassignment surgery though, your correcting gender.

Anonymous said...

"Is your view of the birth control coverage issue related to the way you feel — be honest! — about the sex other people are having? If you rankle — like Rush — at other people wanting you to pay for their stuff — is it about sex?"

OK, I will answer your question directly. I in 2 B ii, those who feel birth control is wrong. I rankle at other people wanting me to pay for their stuff, but it is not just paying for sex that rankles me, so no, that fact that I am paying to facilitate casual sex is not the issue.

I was rankled when the customer in front of me at Dollar General paid for soft drinks and ice cream with food stamps and therefore could pay for his cigarettes with cash. That rankles me, too.

There were two simultaneous feelings at work while I watched this transaction--I am being cheated by paying for junk food and cigarettes instead of good food, AND he is being cheated by a system that allows him to eat junk food and smoke cigarettes using his food money. That is a dead end street for him. I would much rather be paying for a motivational program to give him some goal in life and some boot-camp type of program to get him in good physical shape. The do-gooders who designed this program are wasting my money and his life.

ken in sc said...

As a retired teacher, my last two years teaching alternative school, I learned that many young girls know about birth control, but choose to get pregnant anyway. It improves their social status and their economic prospects. Just as some young boys don’t care who they get pregnant, some girls don’t care much who gets them pregnant—as long as he makes them tingle. They know who the mother is, and that’s what is important. That’s who gets the benefits, and that’s who gets fawned and lauded over when they bring their babies to school.

The problem we have with this situation is not really birth control, it is self control.

Paul Ciotti said...

Althouse: "Women deserve the utmost support in a free society because we all need women . . . to do the hard physical work of bearing children . . ."

And the corollary is that men deserve the utmost support in a free society because we need men to do the hard physical work of creating and maintaining the infrastructure that makes civilization possible.

Hagar said...

It is about egos and group identification, and those who make money off this sort of foolishness.

jaed said...

Government is forcing insurance to cover birth control. How is that government taking over morality?

Althouse, you are eliding the object here. Government is forcing employers to pay for free birth control and abortifacient drugs. Some employers have qualms of conscience about this, their morality informs that facilitating one or both of these is wrong. Government seeks to override that moral choice on their part.

That's how government is taking over morality: it's replacing the moral choices of employers with the morality that government agencies want them to have instead.

(It also raises the question of whether, if government can force the conscience of employers concerning providing these free items, it can also force the conscience of women concerning using the free items. There really isn't a principle that says you can do one but not the other, and the public-health argument applies even more strongly to the second than to the first. Imagine how few unwanted babies there woud be if every woman were fitted with an IUD!)

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
J said...

I feel hostile towards the clumps of cells that voted for Obama.

Brando said...

"Is your view of the birth control coverage issue related to the way you feel — be honest! — about the sex other people are having? If you rankle — like Rush — at other people wanting you to pay for their stuff — is it about sex?"

Not at all. This is about the right of employers and employees to freely contract between each other, and whether the government should be able to decide what those parties can agree to.

Perhaps for some people this is at least partly because of sex--I think the fact that many commenters ask why heart disease pills should require a copay but contraceptives may not gets at this. But if anything that distinction isn't about sex per se but rather about medicine for less dire needs compared with medicine for more dire needs.

Reducing this issue to "it's about sex!" is an easy smokescreen for the Left, much as the same charge was used during the Clinton impeachment. It makes the Right look like old, uptight prudes, trying to stop others from enjoying themselves in a harmless way. And it allows the Left to avoid addressing the actual points that the Right is making.

Rusty said...

Ann Althouse said...
Lots of comments, but I'm not seeing answers to the questions that end the post: "Is your view of the birth control coverage issue related to the way you feel — be honest! — about the sex other people are having? If you rankle — like Rush — at other people wanting you to pay for their stuff — is it about sex?"

I'm hearing the same political arguments, most of it in the form that Rush put it (i.e., don't make me pay for your stuff), and I was hoping for some new contemplation of our deeper intuitions about sex. I thought we could learn something about why we have the political positions we do if we opened that door and saw what was there.

Probably because Obama Care made it a political issue. There are enough NGOs out there handing out free BC to anyone with the ambition to go up and ask for it.
My position has always been; I do not give a rats ass what you do. Really. I don't care. As long as you don't interfere with my rights you are free to do as you please.

Paco Wové said...

Some days it seems as though there are two distinct Althouse personalities who have a Jekyll-and-Hyde relationship with each other – we can call them 'Althouse A' and 'Althouse B'. Althouse A is the personality who writes blog posts like the recent set on the importance of the RFRA to the Hobby Lobby decision; Althouse B writes stuff like ... this post. Do they ever get together over a glass of red and discuss their different viewpoints?

n.n said...

From a natural perspective, contraception is dysfunctional, and abortion is self-defeating. Humans are peculiar in that we normalize behaviors which are purely hedonistic, with no redeeming value to the individual, society, or humanity. The motives of the minority who encourage this corruption should be considered suspect. Fitness is not principally a species-wide attribute.

SGT Ted said...

I have long felt that men are driving the pro-BC and pro-abortion agenda, and that the natural female position is the opposite of that.

Right, blame the men for the actions and desires of the Women's Movement, which was led by NOW back in the day. If male politicians couldn't get votes from women for it, they wouldn't support it.

This is ALL driven by women. The men are merely along for the ride, precisely because they think it'll get them laid, and/or to get votes from a huge amount of women.

Blaming MEN for this is extremely patronizing towards women.

SGT Ted said...

I learned that many young girls know about birth control, but choose to get pregnant anyway. It improves their social status and their economic prospects. Just as some young boys don’t care who they get pregnant, some girls don’t care much who gets them pregnant—as long as he makes them tingle. They know who the mother is, and that’s what is important. That’s who gets the benefits, and that’s who gets fawned and lauded over when they bring their babies to school.

This is why we now need to get rid of free money going to women that get pregnant out of wedlock. At least, that's MY "incentive" plan. I bet that would prevent far more of such pregnancies than giving away free B/C.

In fact, I bet the cost savings would be more than enough to actually provide the free B/C that Althouse calls for.

Anonymous said...

health insurance from an employer is something that you earn from employment

But in other threads you've said that Act 10 made it so teachers are finally paying for their health insurance, as if they never earned it before.

Your opinion changes, depending on how you want to use it politically.

Chris Lopes said...

"This is why we now need to get rid of free money going to women that get pregnant out of wedlock. At least, that's MY "incentive" plan. I bet that would prevent far more of such pregnancies than giving away free B/C."

While I am sympathetic to the need for society to make out of wedlock pregnancy and birth less appealing, that money is actually meant for the care and feeding of the child involved. Said child did not choose to be born and ought not have to suffer because his parents chose to be irresponsible. Making it more difficult for the child's mother to raise the child does not (in the long run) really help us as a society.

Anglelyne said...

I'm hearing the same political arguments, most of it in the form that Rush put it (i.e., don't make me pay for your stuff), and I was hoping for some new contemplation of our deeper intuitions about sex. I thought we could learn something about why we have the political positions we do if we opened that door and saw what was there.

Surely among the most irritating of intellectual tics: the conviction that, if people continue to disagree with me, or continue to refuse to allow me to define the terms of the debate, it is because they don't understand my point, or refuse to contemplate the deep insight into this issue that I have revealed. (The honest contemplation of which, cough cough, would of course lead them to my point of view on the issue.)

You are simply wrong that people who have come to some variant of the "pay your own way" conclusion all got there by some simple-minded libertarian moral calculus, without a thought in their heads about "the costs to all of us" of untimely reproduction.

You're attempting a sleight of hand here, sneaking in your premise that the "nays" are really trying to impose a personal moral judgment, inattentive to any concept of the common good, while the "yeas" are operating from a far broader, better-informed, more socially responsible basis. (Sound familiar?) All this while your own view totters on the house of cards that is "free birth control promotes responsible reproduction".

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