To Insure or Not to Insure Contraceptives Part I

By Todd Andrew Barnett

The Obama administration’s mandate on all employers – including Catholic hospitals, universities, and even charities – to amend their health insurance coverage policies to include free contraceptives for women has ignited a never-ending frenzied and controversial debate. It has ushered in a culture war on contraceptives between Leftists who advocate the State subsidizing contraceptives for women on the grounds that a woman’s right to her reproductive system must be protected and Rightists who oppose the subsidies because it coerces religious groups to provide “access” to these services while running roughshod on their protection of their religious tenets and freedom.

(Interestingly enough, the real reason for the Left’s support of the contraceptive coverage is not due to “access” to said coverage or “protect a woman’s right to choose,” but rather to implement “population control,” as Real Time host Bill Maher poignantly opined nearly two weeks ago on his HBO show. No proof can be offered to substantiate that charge, but the tone and mindset of this action are blatantly and ubiquitously undeniable.)

The nation’s top Catholic organization The United States Conference for Catholic Bishops and other officials from the Catholic Church have taken President Obama to task over his decree on religious and moral grounds, because, since this new policy is imposed upon all said institutions and that the Church opposes the practice of using contraception as it is violates the spirit and sanctity of their religious tenets and its First Amendment protection of religious liberty.

Other secular groups have weighed in the protest, simply and prudently positing that this ruling could profoundly metastasize to other faiths who don’t want to be coerced into providing said services and other matters that could result in costly and perverse trade-offs on political, cultural, economic, and social scales.

Religious Groups’ Paramount Point

Catholics, Christians, and other adherents to other religious faiths who raise their ardent objections to these practices (which they view as abject monstrosities in themselves) have unarguably a paramount point. Just because a dozen of states have established a precedent of instituting their own contraceptive coverage policies (in the name of state tyranny) for years doesn’t mean it’s a good idea. Right now that isn’t the point. As a matter, it’s quite irrelevant to the case at hand. A precedent established by the stroke of a political pen does not transform the immoral act into a moral one, even if one believes that it is rather an excellent idea. Point of fact, it ought to be applied uniformly without any condemnations whatsoever.

However, Republicans are taking the hypocritically easy way out on this mess. As my fellow good friend libertarian/anarchist scribe Sheldon Richman easily put it on his Facebook wall:

The Definition of Insurance and Its Rise as a Pooling Risk

This mind boggling talk about providing coverage for contraceptives by a federal mandate is, as the British are fond of saying, “rubbish.” Coverage entails “insurance” for women who purport the need to have it to “access services” that would most likely prevent the high probability and likelihood of pregnancy.

This is all predicated on the false statist liberal idea that access to services depend upon insurability of them because, with a lack of that coverage, women will be coerced not to have them. That, however, is an odd yet nonsensical argument circling the liberal statist wagons these days. Consumers have access to a wide range of products and services, yet they are uninsurable. Everything from fast food meals to a gallon of milk fits under that rubric. Thus, it begs the question: what is insurance?

Insurance is a de-facto promise of payment to an insurance policyholder on a periodic basis (known as premiums) by a firm that peddles it in the event that a massive future loss can possibly and will most likely occur. It is modeled to protect both the insurer (the company that dispenses the insurable sum of money) to the insured (the individual holder of the insurance policy) based on the likelihood that an unexpected loss can and will take place. The policyholder will pay a deductible on his part and the insurer will cover the rest in case the policyholder and the company take a loss (which is far likelier in any given outcome than realized).

Insurance arose as a pooling risk for a number of reasons. For one thing, insurance has always historically been seen as a low probability/high-cost catastrophe that can possibly transpire beyond their control (or any level of control at all). It is quite unnecessary to point this out to the defenders of the ruling. So why is “coverage” of contraceptives, which is typically uninsurable now viewed (mostly with great skepticism) as an insurable act, need not to be covered at all? Its simple. Women’s use of birth control pills and other forms of contraception is purely a voluntary and volitional action. The use of the product may be a good idea for women who, while may be perfect for their child-bearing ages, are not financially in the position to birth and rear children, but that is a voluntary and volitional decision for women to make. The view that we must insure against the likelihood of bringing an unborn child to full term so that a woman (who may or may not be ready to assume responsibilities of mature parenthood) will not conceive a child flies in the face of the fact that it is a choice on her part to not conceive her child.

©2012 by Todd Andrew Barnett with a Creative Commons License. Some Right Reserved. Reprinted with permission.


Jason Rink is the Editor-in-Chief of The Liberty Voice. Executive Director of the Foundation for a Free Society. He is the producer and director of Nullification: The Rightful Remedy, and the author of “Ron Paul: Father of the Tea Party” the biography of Congressman Ron Paul. See more of his work at his writing at and his film production work at


  1. Steve M

    February 23, 2012 at 1:37 pm

    Yep you nailed it on the question of insurance…. which should be about expensive shared risks.

    Paying an insurance company to pay your dentist to do your periodic teeth cleaning adds unnecessary costs to the bill. Same goes for contraceptives.

    You might as well have insurance to cover your car when it’s gas tank gets empty, it’s tires bald and needs a tune up.

    How about having your home owners insurance pay the gardener to do the bi-weekly lawn cutting?

  2. C Nastee

    February 23, 2012 at 7:18 pm

    If they want to mandate health care for all. i expect to get free food. that is the most important element to human health. the correct diet. that is why this Health care is so bogus. they want to make it easy to abort, and get birth control. Here is my prediction. With free abortions and birth control less females are going to care about using condoms. So HIV, HEP C, and all other sex transmitted diseases are going to skyrocket. call me crazy, but when things are free people will use them. that is my big argument. trust me i luv sex, but be careful out there and think hard about condoms.

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