Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Access to Birth Control

This debate over the family planning money in the stimulus package is silly. Sure, it's easy for conservatives to paint this as a petty attempt to get money for "evil Planned Parenthood," but here's what's really going on.

Birth control is widely popular and supported by most Americans. Social conservatives have passed regulations that say Medicaid, the health care for the poorest children and mothers in America, must obtain a waiver from the federal government to be covered for birth control -- something covered by most insurance providers who aren't Medicaid. Legally, this is simply eliminating the waiver -- and bureaucracy -- and allowing Medicaid to do something it's already allowed to do. The money allocated is just to make the change.

But social conservatives are freaking out. They, apparently, only want wealthy people to have access to birth control. What conservatives fail to point out in their protests over federally funded family planning is that ultimately this is about class. The poorest Americans have no choice but to turn to government subsidized health care -- something that's becoming increasingly unaffordable for most Americans. When we're talking about government subsidized family planning, what we're doing is giving poor people the same access to reproductive services that middle-class and wealthy people already have.

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