Now that we’ve all had a few words to say about the inappropriate use of certain words toward certain people, what were we originally talking about, again? Oh, that’s right: forcing Catholic institutions to act against their religious conscience, and violating the economic liberty of people in general, by forcing them to pay for “free” birth control.
Why are we doing this? According to leftist agitator Sandra Fluke, it’s because female students at Georgetown are being driven into penury by the financial burden of paying for their own birth control. She claimed to have conducted a study showing it cost them $3,000 over the course of a three-year law school education for these supplies. As a result, “forty percent of the female students at Georgetown Law reported to us that they struggled financially as a result of this policy,” by which she meant those stuffy Catholics refusing to pay for contraception.
Right about the time liberals went mad over radio host Rush Limbaugh’s attempt to satirize Fluke’s demands, people began asking where this thousand-dollar-per-year figure could possibly have come from, since condoms are widely available for little or no cost, and birth control pills were readily available in the Georgetown area for less than $10 per month without insurance coverage.
The very conveniently timed burst of outrage over Limbaugh’s comments short-circuited all attempts to challenge Fluke’s fanciful numbers, ten times higher than the actual cost of contraception. Even a normally fair-minded reporter like ABC’s Jake Tapper simply refused to challenge Fluke’s claims during an interview. When blogger Ace of Spades called him on it, Tapper’s response was, “If you have issues with her testimony, take them up with her. If you have issues with what Rush said, take it up with him.”
Well, okay, Mr. Tapper. Then what do we need reporters for? Have you at least got a number where everyone in America who has questions about Fluke’s testimony can reach her to obtain clarification?
Why was it necessary for Fluke to absurdly inflate the actual cost of contraception? Her basic demand, which is that other people should be obliged to pay for her contraceptives, should not depend on the cost of the materials involved. The logical validity of the argument is unchanged if those supplies cost $120 per year or $1,000 per year. But, of course, the emotional urgency of the appeal disappears when we’re talking about pills that cost ten bucks at the local Target store. Such a sum could not be portrayed as bankrupting hapless coeds, so it wouldn’t strike many people as important enough to warrant over-riding the First Amendment and bringing the heavy boot of ObamaCare down on the neck of Georgetown University.
It shouldn’t be “important enough” at $1,000 a year either, or $10,000 for that matter. What we’re really embroiled in here is a very old argument, made possible by conceding the foundational principle of socialism: some people’s needs are important enough to over-ride other people’s rights.
Once that door has been cracked open, and the concept of “inalienable rights” derived from an authority higher than the State has been discarded, all else is negotiation. Many people, upon hearing of Fluke’s demand for compulsory contraception benefits, wondered why Georgetown’s rowdy students weren’t expected to take responsibility for their own sexual behavior, and its consequences. Maybe they should study more, and frolic less. Why should anyone else be expected to cover the cost of their sex lives?
The response is the same one offered against every criticism of pervasive sex education, and the same club used to beat down abstinence-based sex ed: those urges are uncontrollable! Even moderate levels of chastity are a silly Victorian daydream, shattered by the deafening alarm bells of the youthful libido. No one can be held responsible for their own sex drive!
That is exactly the point of all this: the dissolution of freedom, through the negation of responsibility. The two are inextricably linked. Freedom is forged of responsibility. A person who is not held responsible for the consequences of his actions is not free.
It has been amazing to watch the Left shove Big Government into every nook and cranny of our lives, while simultaneously screaming that government must be kept “out of the bedroom” – the one room in the house where Uncle Sam was expressly forbidden to tread, until now. This is more than just a strategy to sedate the populace by making them drunk on sexual liberty, while stripping them of all others. The Left’s concept of sexual freedom is really all about erasing responsibility, most especially pregnancy. All the sacraments of feminism are geared toward this end, from the destruction of marriage, to contraception and abortion.
As we can see from the Georgetown Condom Caper, relieving some people of responsibility in this manner immediately compromises the freedom of others. The Left is all about compulsion, and ObamaCare’s birth-control provisions provide them with a lovely moral imperative to exercise control over people they don’t like. Every aspect of the libertine crusade works that way, but it’s rarely been made so immediately obvious.
The “old fashioned” model of holding people accountable for their sexual urges – expecting men to take responsibility for the women in their lives, and holding men and women responsible for their children – was an engine that generated a great deal of true freedom. It placed layers of family, community, and religious faith between people and the State. It gave married couple and their children the resources necessary to avoid government dependency. It would have made people ashamed to appear at public hearings and hand other people the invoice for their sex lives. It would have made the young men of a university profoundly embarrassed to be viewed as cads, who apparently shoulder little of the alleged $1,000-per-year burden for hooking up.
Of course all that “regressive” talk of family, responsibility, and honor had to go. We could never have arrived at gigantic government programs mandating religious organizations to pay for birth control and abortifacient drugs otherwise. It’s an important step on the way to a future where no one is responsible for anything, everything vital is “free,” and the wise masters of the State decide what is “vital.” We can have an irresponsible society, or a free nation, but not both.
John Hayward is a staff writer for HUMAN EVENTS, and author of the recently published Doctor Zero: Year One. He is a regular guest on the Rusty Humphries radio show. Follow him on Twitter: Doc_0. Contact him by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.