The battle over birth control

Interesting piece in the Daily Beast by Dana Goldstein about how conservatives are gearing up to try and prevent health care reform from covering birth control.  Matt Yglesias basically says “bring it on” as this is clearly a fight that does not work politically for conservatives.  Goldstein’s article clearly shows why:

Unlike on abortion rights, where opinion polling demonstrates a notoriously conflicted public, birth control is wildly popular. Eighty percent of Americans say pharmacists should be required to dispense birth control regardless of their own opinions on the morality of premarital or non-reproductive sex. Three-quarters of American Catholicsdisagree with their Church’s anti-contraception policy. A recent survey of evangelical leaders—the family values crowd—found that 90 percent of them consider hormonal birth control and condoms “morally acceptable.”

The business community, too, is enthusiastic. A new report from the National Business Group on Health found that most companies would save money in the long run by providing their employees with co-pay-free birth control.

There’s also massive demand for these drugs: According to the Guttmacher Institute, seven out of every 10 American women over the age are 15 are currently sexually active and don’t want to become pregnant. Eighty-nine percent of them are using some form of contraception; 15.3 million Americans use prescription hormonal birth control.

Much like their general silence on IVF, I find the Catholic Church’s relative quiet on this issue quite telling.  They are willing to fight for their positions when they’ve got reasonably strong public support (e.g., opposition to legal abortion and gay marriage), but when they’re out their on a limb, such as opposition to contraception or assisted reproduction, not so much.  I’m with Yglesias– bring it on.


About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State

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