There have been some fairly ridiculous reactions to the decision to require insurers to cover birth control and other women’s health services without a co-pay, including a Fox News commentator who uttered the dire prediction that after birth control, insurers would be forced to cover manicures and pedicures. After all, once we have access to a frivolous lady service like domestic violence counseling, nabbing free grooming is definitely my next priority.
But GOP Representative Steve King (R-Iowa) realizes that loftier issues are at stake: according to him, providing accessible birth control will cause the decline of American civilization.
King, speaking on the House floor on Monday night, announced that “preventing babies from being born is not medicine.” Indeed, he added, if all of us had been “prevented” through birth control, we would not have health care to worry about (a fair, but completely irrelevant point). The “Orwellian” consequences are, for King, clear: “If we let our birth rate get down below the replacement rate we’re a dying civilization.”
His radically misinformed comments reveal a fundamental element of the GOP’s line on reproductive rights: anything that allows women to control their fertility must be detrimental to society as a whole. This is despite the fact that, as ThinkProgress’ Marie Diamond points out, “facilitating women’s access to birth control benefits society at large and is the fiscally conservative position.”
How does it do this? By reducing the number of abortions (certainly something that King should be able to get behind) and reducing healthcare costs. Since poor women are four times more likely to have an unplanned pregnancy as higher-income women, giving them the means to choose when to have a child cuts down on the likelihood that they will rely on the states for pre and post-natal care. But of course, reducing the number of people who access government services isn’t King’s goal – it’s not like he’s a member of the Tea Party, or anything like that.
Of course, such a coherent application of his own party’s supposed fiscal policies would be too much for Rep. King, whose apocalyptic ramblings forecast a terrible world in which women are able to decide whether or not to have children and — shockingly — society benefits. Women having control over their own bodies and sexuality — and saving the government money? Surely the end times are at hand.
Photo from n3tel via flickr.