For over two weeks, the political discourse in this country has been dominated by the Obama administration’s plan to force Catholic hospitals and charities to provide health insurance plans that cover contraception. This new decree is just the latest chronicle in Obama’s desperate quest to win a second term. He seems to have a malign talent for driving divisive non-issues into the national dialogue.
Now, most people are aware that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act contains a mandate that health insurance plans cover the entire cost of certain contraceptives. In late January, the administration issued an edict that all religious schools, hospitals, charities and other health care services must provide contraceptives in their insurance plans, even if it violates their religious beliefs.
This has led to an outcry from the country’s Catholic leadership, who vociferously oppose contraception. Some believe it constitutes infanticide, and now the federal government is mandating them to pay for a product that violates their religious beliefs.
Proponents of this mandate correctly assert that the vast majority of American Catholics use contraception. Current TV’s Cenk Uygur, on his talk show the Young Turks, pointed out that 99 percent of American Catholics use contraception. However, Cenk fails to realize that that means Catholics who want contraception have no problem obtaining it.
Putting religious issues aside, there are plenty of secular reasons to oppose this.
There is not a single person in the U.S. that has a job and health insurance that does not have access to contraception. Anyone who has taken a high school health class knows that the only form of contraception that prevents both pregnancy and sexually-transmitted diseases are condoms. Condoms are affordable and easily available.
The free market has produced a litany of affordable forms of contraception. Pharmacies have entire aisles dedicated to affordable contraceptive products.
Anyone who wants to work for a religious health institution should probably know whether or not contraception is acceptable to that faith. When preparing for employment a person will negotiate with their employer about their health coverage and they will know whether or not they will be provided with contraception so they can budget accordingly.
No one in America is going broke paying for contraception. So why is this non-issue dominating the news? It is because cultural and religious issues polarize and divide the American people and it’s an election year. Obama’s popularity with young people and middle class women has plummeted since 2008. If he tells them that social conservatives are plotting to take away birth control, it might get some otherwise apathetic individuals to the polls in November.