Pregnancy and Other Preventable Diseases
Time was when healthcare prevention was associated with smoke-cessation, dieting and exercise to avoid preventable diseases such as heart attacks, cancer and strokes. With the HHS mandate requiring contraception coverage under all insurance programs, including religious organizations, pregnancy has now moved into the realm of preventable disease.
Contraceptives have been employed by various means for centuries. To my knowledge, however, no government other than Communist China has mandated their across-the-board coverage. With ObamaCare, however, pregnancy is being repositioned from a life-giving event to a preventable ailment. Should the HHS mandate succeed, associating pregnancy with disease is clear – pregnancy is a preventable condition (through contraception) with a known cure (abortion).
This moral equivalency has been around since Roe v. Wade when unplanned pregnancies were called “unwanted” or “unintended” and more recently “unwelcome”. Yes, it’s true. When a man and woman have sexual intercourse the consequences may be “unwelcome” but hardly unpredictable. Contraception is now widely available in local clinics at low or no-cost. On college campuses, condoms and the Pill are handed out like baby aspirin. Yet, the unintended consequences of “hooking up” – pregnancy and STD’s – proliferate. (As an added incentive, some colleges even offer the morning-after pill in vending machines. Students can now buy an abortive pill with their M&Ms in the student lounge!)
Still, supporters of the HSS mandate claim that it’s about “women’s reproductive rights”. This, they say, justifies requiring Catholic hospitals, schools and charities to provide contraception coverage to its non-Catholic employees. Why should non-Catholics be deprived contraceptives for simply working at a Catholic agency? Supporters of the HHS mandate, including Senator Barbara Boxer, insist that this right is unassailable and those who disagree, such as Catholic Bishops, are McCarthyites. Except that the HHS mandate compels a religious organization to act against its own teachings. Non-Catholic employees can seek contraception elsewhere, if desired. And while individual Catholics may choose to ignore the Catholic prohibition on contraception, compelling the Catholic Church as an institution to violate its own moral teaching is a violation on the freedom of religion. (See the First Amendment.)
But supporters insist, “Some women can’t afford contraception! This is about poverty prevention!” This theory assumes that reducing pregnancies will reduce poverty once women have fewer babies, thus reducing household expenses. Yet low-cost contraception and/or abortions are available in poverty-stricken neighborhoods through government-funded agencies such as Planned Parenthood. But even with a plethora of such options available to women, the rate of unwed mothers and teenage pregnancies continues unabated. (In 1960, just 5.3% of births were to unwed mothers. By 2010, the rate of out-of-wedlock births had grown to 40.8 %.) Rather than curing poverty and liberating women, government intervention seems only to have exasperated it, making unwed mothers more dependent on the state through government handouts like Medicaid.
Another unintended consequence of increased contraception use is that many women postpone pregnancy until well into their thirties or even forties and have a harder time conceiving. Infertility clinics have cropped up across the nation in hopes of alleviating this causality, but even the best medicine cannot always make up for what nature disallows. Some couples, having waited until they were economically secure before having children, are finding themselves childless because they waited too long to afford them.
(Interestingly, while government insurance pays for birth control, it does not cover infertility treatments which are very expensive and emotionally grueling. Ponder the contradiction here; while the government will assist in preventing or even eliminating a fetus, it will not help in the conception of one.)
One last unforeseen consequence is solitude – 97 million adult Americans remain unmarried – a 20% drop in marriages since 1960. While contraception may expand the range of sex partners and career opportunities for adults, many find themselves still single late in life – most not by choice. Add to this, 50 million abortions since Roe v. Wade and one finds an increasingly barren society. Contraceptives dull the impetus toward marriage and childbearing, creating adult lives that are at once liberated but also solitary. In the never-ending pursuit of self-actualization, we seem to neglect self-preservation.
If one widens the lens on the affect of contraception and abortion over the past 50 years, one sees an American society radically altered, turned inward and gradually eliminating itself. With government mandates, this process will be accelerated. It may sound alarmist, but where contraception is mandatory, abortion is sure to follow.
And this is where the disease model of pregnancy in the HHS mandate becomes readily apparent.
By putting contraceptives under the rubric of “preventative medicine” pregnancy is repositioned from a condition once thought to be life-giving to one considered life-threatening, equating pregnancy with illness. But pregnancy is not a disease; it is a necessary and procreative way of life.
In the end, the Obama administration will probably issue a waiver to religious-based organizations who object to mandatory insurance coverage for contraception. Catholics account for 1 out of every 4 votes and this issue is eating away at Obama’s base. Even some liberal Catholic commentators such as E.J. Dionne of the Washington Post have balked at the federal mandate and are pleading with Obama to back off or face defeat in November. (Sadly, some of these lovesick Catholics seem more concerned with Obama’s electability than his constitutional overreach or lack of moral scruples.)
Make no mistake; this mandate is about more than contraception. It is statism at work. Having redefined government’s role in reproductive rights, who knows what other surprises lurk in the jack-in-the-box called ObamaCare. And if Obama gains a second term, he won’t give a hoot what religious organizations object to – since he will no longer need their votes.
(Update: On Friday, Obama issued an “accommodation” to religious-related organizations, exempting them from contraceptive, sterilization and abortive insurance coverage. It will be up to insurers to pay for these services – free of charge. How this will be achieved without raising insurance premiums on churches is unclear. As predicted, liberal Catholics flocked back to Obama and genuflected at his feet; “Thank you, Mighty-One! You are too generous!” But the Catholic Bishops have remained aloof to the offer and are reviewing the finer details before issuing a response. More to come.)