Should Birth Control be Free?
Family planning is used by 57 percent of married or in-union women of reproductive age according to a study conducted in 2015 by the United Nations. This displays the impact that contraceptives have worldwide and creates a question of equality within health care, “Is birth control a fundamental right or a privilege?” Even though the use of birth control is increasing, a study by the UN estimates that over 214 million women are not using safe and effective family planning methods. This is due to their lack of information or services of support from their partners and community (UNFPA). A woman’s opposition to birth control can also be due to her religious or moral beliefs. One argument against providing free birth control through government and private programs is how it can go against the morals of the provider or recipient. This describes that it is a woman’s right to decide how they handle their body and others should not be forced to support this right or be responsible to provide services in order to ensure it. On the side for free birth control it is argued that it is a preventative health measure that helps reduce unintended pregnancies (Vogel). Free birth control is essential in order to improve the safety of women’s health around the world. They help improve the health of women that use it by providing further protection against sexually transmitted diseases. It also reduces the abortion rate (WHO). In order to fully understand this debate regarding the offering and implementing of a free birth control initiative, real-world examples must be analyzed. The moral, economic, and social argument must also be analyzed to see all of its disadvantages and benefits. One of the main arguments against free birth control is its effects concerning individuals morals. One example is in the Philippines where the Reproductive Health bill proposed laws that require the government to provide contraceptives which received opposition from the Roman Catholic Church (Lichauco de Leon). Sunshine Lichauco de Leon is a freelance journalist based in Manila, Philippines that does not hold any bias in the article as it just contains facts. The church believes birth control is a “sin” and will “relax moral standards.” Father Melvin Castro, executive secretary of the Episcopal Commission on Family and Life states it is a “chemical or medical abortion” and “bring down the bar of morality” (Lichauco de Leon). The Catholic’s case against contraceptives is that they are a form of abortion and promotes the wrong morals. “They claim a power which belongs solely to God” (Zimmerman). This quote supports Catholic’s case against birth control since they believe it is immoral for anyone or anything play God. Chelsea Zimmerman is a Catholic pro-life activist, on the board of directors for Missouri Right to Life, has a catholic agenda. Castro also states it is “immoral law” and argued the government should not intervene with morals and religion (Lichauco de Leon). In 2017, the University of Notre Dame announced it would discontinue birth control coverage for students and employees as it was against its religious beliefs as a Catholic university (UWIRE). The article explains they are “within their right” to do so and that the school should not be held responsible for one’s sexual life when it defies their morals. Some women accused the university of sexism however they did make an exception to the new mandate. Notre Dame will continue to subsidize birth control for those who require it for health reasons (UWIRE).
According to the Food and Drug Administration birth control increases the risk of breast and cervical cancer, heart attacks, blood clotting and does not protect against sexually transmitted infections (Axe). Dr. Axe is a certified doctor of natural medicine and chiropractic and a clinical nutritionist. The article is relatively unbiased as it mainly states facts and statistics. Dr. Axe does not address the counterargument directly but he does include the downside to some of the research presented. Contraceptives have also been linked to nutrient deficiencies, causing or worsening candida and moodiness, anxiety and depression. A study conducted in Denmark, with over 1 million women, found an increase in depression rates among women taking birth control versus women who were not (Axe). This explains how birth control can have more of a negative impact than one that is beneficial.Religious ideology, the idea that contraceptives are a privilege and they have numerous risks which aids the argument against free birth control. This is supported by real world examples and statistics from credible studies such as the one in Denmark. One weakness is it is based on opinions and contrasting evidence. For example, in a 2012 study by the Archives of Gynecology and Obstetrics did not find the same correlation between birth control and depression. Although this argument contains a limited amount of supporting evidence it still effectively validates the preposition that contraceptives should not be provided with no cost as they violate the morals of Christians. On the side for free birth control Susan Rinkunas is a strong advocate and believes it is a preventative care. Rinkunas was the senior online editor at Women’s Health and has a Bachelor in Journalism along with a minor in Interactive Media from the University of Delaware (RocketReach). She is somewhat credible due to her education and background on the issue but it only focuses on the issue nationally. Rinkunas provides a one-sided opinion of all the health benefits of contraceptives and why it is only reasonable for the government to provide it. It can reduce women’s risk for endometrial, ovarian, colon cancer (Cancer) and treat conditions like endometriosis, polycystic ovary syndrome, uterine fibroids, and heavy menstrual bleeding (Rinkunas). This provides evidence that contraceptives are a preventative measure taken by women as it is their fundamental right to be provided with it. Moreover, she mentions the economic advantages of providing universal contraceptives and the harm unplanned pregnancies can cause to both the woman and the child. In the article, Rinkunas addresses key points in her argument with substantial evidence from sources to support it. Women with that become pregnant unexpectedly are more likely to receive delayed or no prenatal care and to smoke, consume alcohol, be depressed, and experience domestic violence during pregnancy (IOM). These pregnancies can affect a person financially as well as the government. Unintended pregnancies nationwide were estimated to be $21.0 billion in 2010—$14.6 billion in federal expenditures and $6.4 billion in state expenditures (Guttmacher). Family planning services helped women avoid two million unplanned pregnancies, which likely would have resulted in 900,000 sudden births and nearly 700,000 abortions (Guttmacher). Guttmacher Institute is a leading research and policy organization that focuses on the advancement of sexual reproductive health and rights internationally. With the use of contraceptives, specifically with publicly funded family planning services, they help women efficiently avoid unwanted pregnancies. Since Christians are generally pro life, reducing abortion with birth control seems to be the reasonable answer but they are still against it due to their belief that it is a “sin” according to the Roman Catholic Church. Even though it may not agree with someone’s beliefs it has positive outcomes both for the women involved and a country as a whole.A prime example of the fundamental need and effects of contraceptive is in Africa. In this country,women have less access to birth control due to their weak health systems and they lack funds to provide substantial facilities, equipment, management, training and community outreach (Guttmacher).
Women in Africa face the same problems as women in the United States due regarding unexpected pregnancies and the need for free contraceptives to prevent them. With free contraceptive care it can benefit the women and continent as a whole by giving them access to control their bodies and reduces the cost of health care. Services cost an estimated $6.5 billion annually in Africa—$942 million for contraceptive services and $5.6 billion for maternal and newborn health care (Guttmacher). Birth control may be costly but it does avoid the cost of additional services being given to women that have children do their lack of contraceptives. If the unmet need for modern contraception in Africa were satisfied, there would be a decline of about 80% in the annual number of unintended pregnancies, unplanned births and abortions (Guttmacher). Each additional dollar spent on contraception would reduce the cost of maternal and newborn health care in Africa by $1.79 (Guttmacher). This data shows that free contraceptives are worth any government’s money since they will overall help cut costs of preventable health care services. Also with more access and use of contraceptives the government can reduce its spending on providing healthcare to new mothers and their unexpected children.This argument for free birth control focuses on the health benefits and economic advantages women, children and the providers of this service receive when allowing women easier access to contraceptives. However, this stance often clashes with the religious and moral beliefs of certain religious groups which prevents governments from providing this service since they claim it’s a privilege and not a fundamental right. The strong and detailed supporting evidence and the real world examples, in the United States and Africa, provide reasoning for why birth control should come at no cost. This topic needs to be investigated to a greater extent in order to establish a better understand on the effects of free contraceptives. Further in depth research can help rid of any contradicting statistics surrounding birth control and the overall impact it has. More information on how current free contraceptives initiative have directly affected communities and countries in all aspects is required. Medications continuing to advance and the analyzation of current programs may lead to the better promotion of women worldwide receiving their right to free birth control.When both arguments are examined the benefits for providing free birth control are greater than the consequences that are proposed. With this initiative it helps to improve the health of women and allow them to exercise their fundamental rights to their body. Religious beliefs challenge this view. This stance did provide a important point that even though birth control can prevent diseases, cancer (Cancer), it can also put women at risk for heart attacks and blood clotting (Axe). Birth control not only is beneficial to women but also, as previously stated, helps to reduce the $21.0 billion spent nationwide in federal and state expenditures due to unintended pregnancies (Guttmacher). Even though birth control may go against some people’s morals, the opinions of a minority should not prevent all women from receiving their fundamental right to proper health care.