Op-Ed

Cutting government-funded birth control will increase other costs

Margot Riphagen of New Orleans, La., wears a birth control pills costume as she protests in front of the Supreme Court in Washington, Tuesday, March 25, 2014, as the court heard oral arguments in the challenges of President Barack Obama's health care law requirement that businesses provide their female employees with health insurance that includes access to contraceptives.
Margot Riphagen of New Orleans, La., wears a birth control pills costume as she protests in front of the Supreme Court in Washington, Tuesday, March 25, 2014, as the court heard oral arguments in the challenges of President Barack Obama's health care law requirement that businesses provide their female employees with health insurance that includes access to contraceptives. AP

A new assault on women’s rights and birth control has begun in America. The party in power is pushing to eliminate access to government subsidized contraception.

At first blush, the argument that taxpayers shouldn’t have to fund a “lifestyle choice” seems like a valid one. But time and again, models and analyses have shown a benefit to taxpayers when birth control is publicly funded.

One showed a $1.32 billion savings on a $235 million investment. Another suggests that for every dollar spent on birth control, there is a future savings of $7.09 in Medicaid expenditures which pay for prenatal care, delivery and infant care.

Defunding government subsidized birth control will cost about seven times as much as continuing to fund it. Let that sink in for a second.

Now, if saving money isn’t your thing, perhaps cutting abortion rates is. In addition to saving the state $42.5 million in 2010, a family planning initiative in Colorado lowered the teen abortion rate by 35 percent.

When one couples this push to eliminate government subsidized birth control with an impending assault on Roe v. Wade, it begs a question: What exactly are our best and brightest in Washington thinking? Is a return to the era of orphanages, back-alley abortions and newborns left on doorsteps worthy of our nostalgia and longing? Maybe it’s that taxpayers want to generously give a higher percentage of their paychecks toward the sustenance and education of more children produced by unintended pregnancies?

Perhaps to offset the cost of increased unintended pregnancies and births, GOP lawmakers also plan to push legislation which aims to decrease spending on Medicaid, WIC and other social support programs. More needy Americans dipping into a smaller bucket will invariably lead to more hungry and unhealthy American children.

I imagine some continue to espouse the idea that withholding birth control will force our young Americans to learn morals and responsibility. Fundamental Christians cite Biblical evidence that any method of birth control, even pulling out, is a sin (Genesis 38:8-10). If this is the case, hell is going to be pretty crowded. Maybe they believe young people just won’t have any sex when a high likelihood of pregnancy is a deterrent. If you are that naïve, John McCain has some cheap oceanfront property in Arizona he is selling (thank you, George Strait).

Perhaps their motives are more nefarious – maybe they want to “Make America Great Again” with a strategy which ensures more women are barefoot and pregnant at all times. This certainly removes women from colleges and work forces, and Lord knows “a woman’s place is in the home.”

Regardless of their rationale, it is irresponsible for lawmakers to withhold contraception coverage. It is a crime against our women, and our taxpayers. The church is a great place for young people to learn values and morals, but this does not mean that the church should be given control of America’s purse strings.

Our elected officials do not bear the responsibility of enforcing the practice of any religious doctrine – quite the contrary. They are charged however, with guarding our individual freedoms and practicing shrewd fiscal decision-making to sustain us. Is our leaders’ religious rhetoric blinding them to a truly conservative strategy to reduce spending? If so, now is the perfect time for us to demand they be less dogmatic and more pragmatic.

Dr. Keith Pochick is a residency-trained Emergency Physician and freelance writer currently practicing in an Urgent Care setting in Charlotte.

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