"They aren't talking about banning contraceptives. They're only saying that employers don't have to pay for them," friends of mine assured me when I expressed amazement at the GOP.
And suddenly, it became clear to me why so many side with Republicans on this issue: Rush Limbaugh actually articulated the sentiment of a majority of Americans when he said that he didn't want to pay for some woman to have sex. Not on his dime. We don't insist that employers buy us dinner but we do insist that they buy us sex? From that perspective, Rush is right. Or at least seems that way until you think about reality.
Why should we pay for people to have sex?
The reality is that people have sex. They have been having sex for millions of years. The people who can least afford to have children are the people who can least afford contraceptives. We don't pay people to have sex; history proves that people will pay to have sex. We pay to avoid unwanted pregnancies.
People shouldn't have sex unless they're willing to have children.
For a host of reasons too varied to get into here, roughly half of adults are single. More, the vast majority of married women have no intention of having as many children as they would should the abstain from use of contraceptives; very few women have the nearly a dozen children they could birth without taking some kind of precaution.
To say that people should not use contraceptives is to say that they should only have sex in years when they want to have children.
Why should contraceptives be a public responsibility? Why make the community pay?
It's simple. If you're in a country with less access to contraceptives, you're in a country with more poverty and all the various problems that come with it.
There is perhaps no simpler measure of development than birth rates. In poor countries, women have few options other than bearing and raising children. In developed nations, women have control over the timing and number of children they have. The result of empowering women is higher levels of education and income for women - and the girls and boys they mother. Any smart community will invest in giving women this power for the same reason that it invests in education, research, roads, and every other advance that gives its people more autonomy, that makes them more affluent. The differences between Sweden and Afghanistan have as much to do with the rights they give their women as any traditional economic factors; a woman who has no control over her own body has little control over her own life.
Even if you don't think that women deserve rights, your desire for economic progress should make you grudgingly agree to ensure that she can afford contraceptives.