During the 2012 presidential campaign the Democrats first employed the term “war on women” to attack the GOP. It was typical of the genitalia-centric politics the Democrats are so fond of but a convincing enough argument to the truly stupid to have an impact no only on the presidential race but several Senate and House races. And naturally, it sent the GOP establishment running like scalded dogs. One of the central figures in this was the rather bovine Sandra Fluke and her demand that you and I pay for her birth control pills. Now in any other time or place a demand by anyone that the taxpayers underwrite their sex life would be greeted with guffaws. Unfortunately, the time and place in which we live believes gender is a choice, restrooms are chosen by inclination, prisoners should get sex change operations at taxpayer expense, and, of course, taxpayers should pay for birth control.
While the “war on women” has largely evaporated, the issue of taxpayer subsidization of (thankfully) heterosexual sexual activity is very much alive and had visited itself upon the Supreme Court.
Several notable GOP politicians have proposed having the FDA make birth control pills available over the counter (OTC). While there are downsides to this proposal, it has a couple of significant plusses.* First, it is logical. Many drugs available OTC now used to be only available via prescription, for instance, Advil, Pepcid, Claritin, Prilosec. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists supported making birth control pills OTC in late 2012, attesting to their safety. Second, it is good politics. As Bobby Jindal wrote in the Wall Street Journal in 2012:
As a conservative Republican, I believe that we have been stupid to let the Democrats demagogue the contraceptives issue and pretend, during debates about health-care insurance, that Republicans are somehow against birth control. It’s a disingenuous political argument they make.
As an unapologetic pro-life Republican, I also believe that every adult (18 years old and over) who wants contraception should be able to purchase it. But anyone who has a religious objection to contraception should not be forced by government health-care edicts to purchase it for others. And parents who believe, as I do, that their teenage children shouldn’t be involved with sex at all do not deserve ridicule.
Let’s ask the question: Why do women have to go see a doctor before they buy birth control? There are two answers. First, because big government says they should, even though requiring a doctor visit to get a drug that research shows is safe helps drive up health-care costs. Second, because big pharmaceutical companies benefit from it. They know that prices would be driven down if the companies had to compete in the marketplace once their contraceptives were sold over the counter.
One would think that this position would be met with hosannas of praise from the left and most especially from Planned Parenthood which says
For nearly 100 years, Planned Parenthood has promoted a commonsense approach to women’s health and well-being, based on respect for each individual’s right to make informed, independent decisions about health, sex, and family planning.
Not so fast. When GOP senate candidate in Colorado, Cory Gardner, wrote an op-ed supporting this proposal, Planned Parenthood has reacted to the proposal the same way a vampire reacts to Holy Water. They throw up a wide variety of utterly laughable objections. For instance, their object that IUDs could not be sold OTC. True. But so what. According to the Guttmacher Institute, the birth control pill is the most common means of birth control. Moving it to OTC would make a lot of sense.
They complain that women would have to buy their own birth control. Today women have to buy their own aspirin and moving The Pill to OTC would dramatically cut the costs.
Why, then, would Planned Parenthood resist this “commonsense approach to women’s health and well-being, based on respect for each individual’s right to make informed, independent decisions about health, sex, and family planning?” An approach that would not only increase access to contraception but reduce costs? As in so many cases the answer is found by following the money.
As Ben Domenech points out in today’s Transom (if you don’t subscribe you are really missing the boat)
It’s also certainly a coincidence that birth control is a major lead generator for Planned Parenthood, to the degree that they can’t afford to lose their existing purpose as a source of prescribed contraception without it hurting their status as an institution. Pages 16 and 17 break out what percentage of Planned Parenthood’s “services” are related to contraception – it’s over a third of their activity, and the breakdown on page 16 shows that it’s overwhelmingly oral contraception (and less than 5 percent of their business is IUDs).http://vlt.tc/1mcp Planned Parenthood’s hypocrisy here is borne out of their interest in survival as an institution: the existing and arbitrary government barrier to over the counter oral contraception is a major path to how they get customers in the door, and they know it.
In fact, over 54% of their contraceptive services business could be handled by a woman (or properly trained boyfriend/husband) during a visit to a Walgreens or CVS. Without the walk-in business to obtain birth control pills then their bogus STD and cancer testing and screening market dries up because one birth control customer ends up as a client in other parts of a Planned Parenthood clinic. As Domenech says, if you strip out this segment of their business model then suddenly they are exposed for what they are: an abortion mill.
*I’m Roman Catholic and well aware of the arguments against contraception and how some varieties of birth control pill are, in effect, abortifacients. These subjects are not really on the table.