Limbaugh and Our Phony Contraception Debate

Posted by on Mar 06, 2012 at 11:00 am

In her testimony, Ms. Fluke claimed that, “Without insurance coverage, contraception, as you know, can cost a woman over $3,000 during law school.” That’s $1,000 per year. But an employee at a Target pharmacy near the university told the Weekly Standard last week that one month’s worth of generic oral contraceptives is $9 per month. “That’s the price without insurance,” the employee said. (It’s also $9 per month at Wal-Mart.)

What about Rush Limbaugh? I won’t defend his use of epithets (for which he’s apologized), but I understand his larger point. At issue isn’t inhalers for asthmatics or insulin for diabetics. Contraception isn’t like other kinds of “health care.” Yes, birth-control pills can be prescribed to address medical problems, though that’s relatively rare and the Catholic Church has no quarrel with their use in this circumstance. And the university’s insurance covers prescriptions in these cases.

Still, Ms. Fluke is not mollified. Why? Because at the end of the day this is not about coverage of a medical condition.

Ms. Fluke’s crusade for reproductive justice is simply a demand that a Catholic institution pay for drugs that make it possible for her to have sex without getting pregnant. It’s nothing grander or nobler than that. Georgetown’s refusal to do so does not mean she has to have less sex, only that she has to take financial responsibility for it herself.

Should Ms. Fluke give up a cup or two of coffee at Starbucks each month to pay for her birth control, or should Georgetown give up its religion? Even a first-year law student should know where the Constitution comes down on that.

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