You don’t have a right to free birth control

One common theme that keeps emerging in the whole birth control/healthcare debate is the idea that those opposed to paying for birth control are somehow attempting to stamp out women’s reproductive rights. This, of course, makes little sense. Birth control, when non-abortive, deals solely with the person’s body, thus the person has complete rule over his or her own body. The government cannot tell the person what to do in that instance, nor is anyone suggesting the government has that power (except for the most extreme right).

At the same time, there’s no justification for free birth control. While one has a right to one’s own body, that doesn’t mean that the taxpayers have to pay for a person to exercise that right. For instance, I have the right to free speech and can therefore publish any book that I want. That doesn’t mean, however, that I can require taxpayers to pay for my publishing of the book. I have the right to own a gun, but that doesn’t mean I can have the government pay for my gun.

The issue of paying for birth control, however, cuts deeper. The way the law is constructed, it would be like working for a Muslim and requiring him to pay for my lunch, which happens to include a ham sandwich (after all, I have the right to lunch, so why not make the government pay for it?). The new solution would be akin to telling the Muslim owner that he doesn’t have to directly pay to it, he just has to give the money to a bunch of my friends and then they have to pay for it – in the end, it’s his money that’s supporting my craving of ham sandwiches.

In a similar fashion, there’s absolutely no reasoning behind offering free birth control. Yes, people have a right to do with their bodies as they please (so long as what they do is non-abortive; no one has the right to take the life of an innocent human person), but it’s non-sequitur to argue that because that right exists, the government must pay for the exercising of that right.

“But what about the common good? Aren’t less unwanted pregnancies better for society?” What about paying for running shoes or exercise equipment or gym memberships? Aren’t people working out better for society as they are less likely to get obese? What about purchasing not only guns for people, but paying for lessons on how to properly use and store them? Our Founding Fathers believed that an armed populace was essential to the common good, so perhaps taxpayers should pay for those.

But let’s not stop there. We all have a right to practice whatever religion we want, but some religious practitioners can’t afford rent on a building. So let’s make the local community pay for the building the practitioners want to meet in. If atheists or those of a different religious view have a problem with it, then they need to learn that they live in a society where sometimes they have to pay for things they don’t like. After all, that’s basically been the argument offered so far on the contraceptive issue; “You don’t like it? Tough.”

If a man or woman wants to go out and have sex with another individual, or hundreds of individuals, then it’s none of my business from a government standpoint. But there’s no reason I should have to pay for that person’s choices. Birth control isn’t life saving nor does it really improve the quality of one’s life (not in any real, substantial fashion). There’s absolutely no justification for why it should be paid for by taxpayers or insurance companies.

We need to remember that while we have the right to do certain things, it is up to us to execute and actualize our rights. We have the right to free speech, but that right only begins to matter when we choose to take action and speak. We have the right to bear arms, but that right only becomes relevant the moment we purchase a firearm. I must actualize the right; it’s not up to the government to pay for me to actualize that right. In the end, saying that the general public shouldn’t pay for birth control isn’t a slam against women’s rights or against personal freedom; it’s simply pointing out that just because we have the right to do something, it doesn’t mean we deserve to be given the means to do so as well.


“That Offends Me!”

A common complaint that is often heard is, “That offends me!” Generally such a statement is not a mere statement of fact, but is tantamount to saying, “My rights have been violated.” The idea of, “You support homosexual rights” or “you’re against homosexual rights” might offend someone and that someone might then seek to have you silenced, somehow theorizing that you have infringed upon his rights. Or in the case of religion (where this phrase is most often in use) someone might say that religious discussions offend him, which is code for, “You don’t have the right to say this/you’re infringing upon my right.”

What people forget is that while offense might ruin public decorum or impede understanding between two opposing sides, the right to not be offended isn’t a right. If a government employee says, “I believe in Allah and the five pillars of Islam,” while that might offend you, that doesn’t mean your rights have been violated.

The First Amendment does not say, “Citizens shall not talk about religion if it offends someone” or “government employees shall not talk about religion if it offends someone.” For those curious about what the First Amendment states (such as Christine O’Donnell), it says (in part):

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof

Now, what in there says that you have the right to not be offended. Understandably the First Amendment would prohibit the government from telling you what religion to believe or what not to believe, or it would prohibit the government from making you pay taxes to a religious institution (or to an anti-religious institution). But what in there says you have the right to avoid offense?

The thing is, we’ve become so anti-religion that any mention of it and we automatically think a right has been violated. If a congressperson says, “We turn to God for hope,” automatically we believe that the government is forcing us to adopt a religion to the exclusion of all other religions. If a teacher says, “I don’t believe there is a God, but there are multiple viewpoints that you should consider when you look at the issue yourself,” no one’s rights have been violated. It might be offensive, but this certainly doesn’t mean rights have been violated.

The idea of having a separation between Church and State is a good one so long as the State doesn’t overpower the Church in having this separation. The First Amendment addressed religion because the Church overran the State, which then imposed taxes and fines on those who didn’t agree with the Church. In rebelling against such a monster, the State has subdued the Church and made sure she has no voice in public discourse, that is, the State is overrunning the Church, which is now attempting to silence any religious voices in public debate. This was not the meaning of the First Amendment.  Continue reading