Alena Yarmosky holds a sign outside the Supreme Court of the United States on a day that the court hears arguments on aspects of the Affordable Care Act involving a mandate for contraception on Tuesday March 25, 2014 in Washington, DC.
Matt McClain/Washington Post/Getty

Contraception opponents aren’t backing down

The Supreme Court has not yet ruled whether corporations are people that can drop birth control coverage for their employees, but conservative efforts against birth control are continuing apace.
 
In Ohio, for example, Republican lawmakers are advancing a proposal to make it illegal for a private insurance company to cover abortions, even in cases of rape, incest and when pregnancy threatens a mother’s life. The Columbus Dispatch’s report added, however, that the state legislation doesn’t stop there (thanks to my colleague Kate Osborn for the heads-up).
The bill also would ban insurance coverage for public employees as well as those on Medicaid for birth control that prevents the implantation of a fertilized egg, such as intrauterine devices, known as IUDs.
 
During testimony, Rep. John Becker, a suburban Cincinnati Republican who sponsored the bill, acknowledged that the wording can be interpreted to include birth-control pills, which he said wasn’t his intention. An amendment could be introduced to clarify that point, he said.
 
When it came to IUDs, which are plastic devices implanted into a woman, Becker said they should be included in the ban because they prevent the implantation of a fertilized egg, meaning they can be considered an abortion.
Defending his proposal, the Republican lawmaker argued, “This is just a personal view. I’m not a medical doctor.”
 
I’m afraid that’s not much of a response. As a practical matter, Becker isn’t just sharing a personal view; he’s pushing state legislation that would affect women throughout Ohio. This isn’t about an opinion; it’s about an effort to change state law.
 
For that matter, if he’s “not a medical doctor,” why is he meddling in this area of public policy in the first place? Or more to the point, why doesn’t the GOP lawmaker leave these issues up to those who are medical doctors and their patients?
 
If Becker’s confused, he can always seek guidance from medical professionals, who can explain to him why using an IUD isn’t the same thing as having an abortion. It’s really not that complicated.
 
Of course, the contraception fight isn’t limited to Ohio. As Rachel noted on the show last night, there are also Republican candidates in key 2014 races endorsing “Personhood” measures that would ban popular forms of birth control. Iowa’s Joni Ernst, the far-right U.S. Senate candidate, is perhaps the most prominent of the bunch, but in Colorado, Senate hopeful Cory Gardner (R) has not only supported “Personhood” at the state level, he’s also still sponsoring the same policy at the federal level.
 
If pressed, maybe these candidates and policymakers can simply say, “I’m not a scientist”? It’s at least as good an answer as, “This is just a personal view. I’m not a medical doctor.”
 

Abortion, Contraception, Ohio and Reproductive Rights

Contraception opponents aren't backing down