SABR Matt is absolutely right in his post below: The ready availability of artificial birth control has wrought enormous social harm. And yes — we should resist all attempts to declare this a settled debate. In the long run, it shouldn’t matter that most American women – including, sadly, a lot of poorly catechized Catholics – think birth control is peachy-keen. The truth shouldn’t be made subject to a popular referendum.
In the short term, however, I think we need to be very careful how we deliver our message with respect to the HHS mandate. Above all, we need to make it crystal clear that even if the bishops win this fight and the mandate is rescinded, a woman – yes, even one who works for a Catholic employer – will still be able to get birth control if she wants it. I Googled around the other day and discovered that a standard birth control prescription would even fit into my limited monthly budget. And if I wanted a sterilization or some other longer-term treatment? I’d have to save up for a while, but it would still be doable. Birth control, in short, is hardly as costly as, say, chemotherapy or heart surgery.
The HHS mandate is a solution to a problem that simply doesn’t exist. The Guttmacher Institute – i.e., the research arm for Planned Parenthood – reports that 99% of sexually-active women have used artificial contraception. That figure implies that there’s no access issue when it comes to birth control. Indeed, the very suggestion that women are struggling to get contraception is absolutely ludicrous. For goodness sake, you can get a condom for free if you’re really that strapped for cash! If you swing by the closest family planning clinic – or student health center if you happen to be on campus – the chances are pretty good that you’ll find condoms sitting in a bowl on the front counter in lieu of candy.
Bottom line, there’s no legitimate reason to demand that we Catholics pay for your birth control — and that’s why we are fighting the mandate so implacably. We personally oppose artificial contraception for all of the reasons SABR Matt describes, but our objection to the administration’s policy on this is less about those (wholly logic-grounded) beliefs and more about the completely unneeded federal overreach. We want people to put on their critical thinking caps, take some personal responsibility, and stop acceding to the progressive infantilization of the American populace. There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch, and it’s time people grow up and recognize that reality.