Controversy over birth control roils on

Birth control has taken center stage as one of the hot-button social and political issues of 2012. Who should pay for it? MSN Money readers sound off.

By MSN Money Partner Mar 9, 2012 1:36PM

By MSN Money


Birth control pills ©Paul Kern/agefotostock/Getty Images It seems that everyone has an opinion in the heated nationwide debate over who should pay for birth control, and MSN Money readers are no exception. This hot-button topic has people picking sides based on politics, religion and personal beliefs, and Money asked our Facebook fans to weigh in. But first, a quick rehash of the controversy:


After the Obama administration announced in January that all employers would be required to cover free birth control for employees, some church-affiliated institutions said such a requirement was an affront to religious freedom. Some states -- including Idaho, Missouri and Arizona -- responded with bills that would allow exemptions to secular insurers or businesses that object to covering contraception, abortion and sterilization. Obama later offered a change that would require insurance companies, not employers, to provide birth control; some critics endorsed that compromise, but not all.


The conversation got a lot nastier after a congressional hearing in mid-February. Georgetown Law student Sandra Fluke was blocked from testifying, but she later told an informal gathering of Democratic House members that she believes contraception should be free because so many students would otherwise go without, and told of a friend with polycystic ovary syndrome who was denied access to contraceptives -- even though her doctor had prescribed them to treat a medical condition.


After Fluke's testimony, conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh threw himself into the middle of the debate after saying Fluke was ultimately asking to be paid to have sex -- and even saying that she should give something in return by posting her sex videos online.  


Limbaugh later apologized for calling Fluke names, but he stands by his stance that people should pay for their own birth control. Some people agree with Limbaugh, including Money reader Lucille B., who says, "Two consenting adults should share the cost of birth control if it is used as a contraceptive." But others, like  Kayla H., have a different view. She says, "I would rather pay out of taxes for birth control to be free rather than a bunch of kids on welfare."  


Here's what other MSN Money Facebook fans said when asked whether birth control should be free:


Rebecca K.: Most contraceptives are too expensive. Maybe people would use them more if they were free or cheaper...


Maheel F.: I think it should be more affordable, for employed workers with insurance and free for the unemployed.


Geraldine G.: I don't know what the price of birth control is. It should not be free, unless EVERYTHING is free.


Stephen P.: $9 a month at walmart and target is too much? I don't think so...


Post continues after video.


Terah J.: It'd be nice if it were free for all, but at the very least it should be free for people who obviously have no/low income and free for all girls under the age of 18 or 21!!


Terrica H.: heck yes it should be free- the government is so willing to give people money for having children, they would save money by providing free birth control! Hey, let's talk sterilization too: THAT shoud be free AND mandatory for some.


Kendall F.: Why should I pay for someone else to have sex? It should only be made available to teens free to stop kids from having kids but over 18, buy your own, abstain, or handle it yourself. Stay the hell out of my pocket and I will stay out of your bedroom!


George B.: The ACA mandated that contraception be offered on all insurance plans. That does not make it free. but like all meds now it I too expensive unless there is some underwriting of the cost. The bottom line: bc is part of any comprehensive public health program, but until we have single payer universal health care we will lag the rest of the world that does.


Laura J.: Why should those be free vs diabetes drugs or any other disease w expensive meds. You want it, buy it


Danny L.: Still cheaper than diapers, formula, baby wipes, and etc.


Deborah C.: It is all about taking personal responsibility for your body and your life. Birth control is what you do to have control over it. It would benefit many woman if it were made available to them for free.


Lori E.: Reliable birth control is too expensive. If not free, then it should be easily affordable and attainable so that more people (women AND men) would use it to a greater extent. Wouldn't that be less expensive than unwanted pregnancy? Because no matter what your beliefs - people are going to have sex. Always have, always will. Let's at least be smart about it now, rather than complain about the results later.


Emily G.: I was paying $10 for birth control per month. No way in hell is that expensive. Keep your legs closed and pay for your own medication! You pay for antibiotics, etc so what is the difference? Simple...your body can't help that you got sick but you somehow feel entitled to free birth control just because you can't accept that its YOUR responsibility?!


Tara K.: It should be covered!!! I use bc for medical reasons and it's a lot every 10 weeks with insurance! Almost all insurances cover Viagra !!!! Birth control should be under preventative care and completely covered !!!


Angela T.: Yes, I do think birth control should be free. Unplanned pregnancy is an epidemic in this country. People are having sex. They need to be educated on methods of birth control, and free or very cheap methods need to be available. People who can't afford birth control can't afford to have children (or abortions), either, and it's much cheaper to provide someone with free birth control than to support their child.


Lisette A.: Since the economic downturn, we are only on my husbands income, we pay $180/month for my insurance- that doesn't cover birth control. We have 2 small children and he makes $17/hour! We can't afford an additional $70/month for birth control!! It's ridiculous that I still have to pay for it when I already have insurance...


Hans I.: Nothing is free. Someome ends up paying for it. Price of contraceptives is up to a competitive market. Dont like the price? Then develop a more cost effective contraceptive yourself, & put the others out of business. Thats how a free market society works. If you want something to be free, it should be free love. Let me know when that happens!


Dawn D.: BC pills are about $300 a year at Planned Parenthood (CA) - but those without health insurance may be able to get that reduced. Small price to pay to prevent an unplanned pregnancy. Condoms may be free, you'd need to ask about that. If young people need help paying for bc, so be it - money well spent.


Rachel R.: The "cost" of free/reduced contraception is exponentially lower than the welfare benefits OUR tax dollars pay to support OTHER people's children that they CANNOT afford to care for. I would love nothing more than to have children but am low income and without insurance at this time. So, should I just get pregnant anyway bc I want a family that I can't afford to support thus forcing the GOVT to support me and MY "new additions" or should I be provided free/low cost birth control as a "reward" for making a smart choice for our country's welfare? HMMM... I wonder what costs less, 18 years of free $ from the GOVT to pay for my kid or 18 years of free contraception?


Kiki P.: You're forgetting that hormonal birth control is not only for preventing pregnancy. Painful debilitating periods, heavy bleeding, and severe mood swings can cause women to lose time at work, and decrease productivity. Also, if you think BC is too expensive to cover, then how about we don't cover Maternity leave or even provide that option? HOw about we stop covering prenatal visits and delivery? I mean why should we pay for someone's lifestyle choice right? /sarcasm.


Belangie P.: Contraceptives are pretty much free or readily available, but people still don't use them responsibly or take advantage of them. Medicaid pays for contraceptives and family planning, yet a lot of its subscribers have an average have 3 children and probably from at least 2 different partners. Free contraceptives are not going to stop the foolish from having children.


Diana D.: I say we all throw birth control into the wind, start popping out 19 kids each, and hope TLC will offer us a television show, so we can afford to raise them.


Phyllis R.: Maybe not free but at an affordable. My daughter is on birth control because of a medical problem. Her insurance is crappy and she pays almost $80 a month for it. She's not on pills and what she is on is what she has to have so nice cheap pills are out of the question. Shouldn't be so expensive!


Margaret S.: I believe this is a red herring....and there is no way anyone is denied access to birth control. What is at stake is religious freedom and what is happening is religious persecution. I know. I have seen it in many forms throughout my long life. Don't kid yourselves. This is the crisis/not a debate for accessibility.


George S.: Simple solution: Sell it over the counter. It makes no sense to require a prescription for a drug that is safer than aspirin. Then no one has to worry about paying for someone else's contraception. Of course the Catholic Church will have its obligatory conniption, but who really cares about that?



Mar 10, 2012 1:34AM
If you asked some people if insurance should pay for their beer and cigarettes they would say yes. My god what ever happened to personal responsibility? When welfare was first made available to American citizens most refused to take it because they had too much pride. Now we are a nation of mooches. No wonder those who actually pay for insurance premiums have to pay so much.
Mar 9, 2012 7:15PM
I have absolutely no problem having my tax money pay for birth control. The more people on birth control, the better. Heck, put the stuff in the tap water!
Mar 9, 2012 6:53PM
I dont think it needs to be free, but it should be affordable. I haven't needed it in over 10 yrs so I cnat say what the price is. I do know that its cheaper to cover that then to pay welfare for the kids......
Mar 9, 2012 7:12PM
One thing that I think people forget about is that birth control is not just a fertility treatment. It is also prescribed to control acne or just to stabilize hormone levels and mood while on one's period. If I don't have it, I pass out cold on the floor due to the level of cramps and loss of blood. In that matter, myself and other women with PMS or PMDD need the hormones from those pills to function normally.
Mar 9, 2012 6:47PM
It's been awhile since bc was needed in my household but it was covered by insurance then and I think is still covered by insurance now, subjet to copays. Might help to shop. I take two BP meds. If I get them at RiteAid, I get 30 pills for a $35.00 copay each. I go to Costco and get 100 of each for $32.00. Sometimes it's better to go outside the system. I really don't think it should be free but I do like the idea of low cost. A $10 copay doesn't seem out of line to me.
Mar 9, 2012 7:02PM
I always found it strange that insurance companies would pay for a birth but would balk at birth control. I remember getting a vasecomy that was covered by my insurance but they would not cover my wife to have birth control. Did not really make sense.
Mar 9, 2012 7:44PM
KEEP  your pants on, and you won't have to worry.
I have worked for over 50 years; sometimes 2 or 3 jobs at once.  I have never gotten anything free.  I've never asked for anything to be given to me.  If I can't pay for it, I don't buy it.  If you can't pay for birth control, get a part time job to earn extra money; it won't hurt you to work, or quit having sex until you can afford it.  I went from a clerk back in the early 60s making $2.00 per hour to a manager of a large conglomerate making a six figure salary.  I did it by working my **** off; not begging for someone to give me something.  Nothing is guaranteed in this world except the chance to make it on your own. 
Mar 9, 2012 6:46PM

First, let me ask a simple question: 


1)  Why should I or anybody have to pay for somebody elses birth control?  Where is the money for this coming from?


In life you have to make choices, so if the pill is too expensive, use condoms.  If you can't afford $1 an encounter, don't have sex.  Besides, condoms protect against STD's and the pill doesn't. 


But I bet all these people wanting to leech of off everybody else and take no responsibility for their own life choices, have a smart/cell phone, brand name shoes, etc.


I accepted personal responsibility and paid or help pay for 30+ years of birth control.  So why don't all you leeches accept some personal responsiblity and pay for your own birth control?

Mar 10, 2012 2:48AM
I think the government should mandate someone come read me a bedtime story, tell me how special I am, and tuck me in.
Mar 9, 2012 7:04PM
Contraception is Healthcare.  Some women need them to fight endometriosis, for example or the struggles of bad periods.  It is cheaper for the insurance companies and society in general to cover these prescriptions than the opposite.
If your faith does not allow you to take it (about 98% of catholic women use some kind of contraceptive method) then don't.  But if you are an institution that provides healthcare or an employer, then you must cover all legal medicines.

Mar 10, 2012 5:15AM
Not with my money. Want free birth control. Cross your legs and say NO!
Mar 9, 2012 7:55PM

Insurance is designed to pay for those items which are too expensive to pay for yourself.  Operations, hospital stays, long term care.  If you add every nickel and dime item, the costs will keep going, up and up, and up.


No one seems to get it... Think that your premium needs to cover the cost of care and any catastrophic bills?

Mar 9, 2012 7:08PM

prenatal care and child birth has to be about $10,000  then from zero to eighteen you got , immunization, and maybe tubes in the ears , doctor visits at least three times a years, tonsils removal , some broken bones along the line and many more expenses that the health insurance will incur. I say paid for birth control and you might just save about $500,000



Mar 9, 2012 6:56PM

If medicaid covers it my insurance that my employer pays almost $1000 per month cover it.  What a screwed up world.  Do you realize how much these irresponsible parents get in tax credits.  I work full time and got $200 back in taxes.  My neighbor that doesn't work and has 2 kids got $10,000.  Where  is the justice in this.

There is already too many unwanted and neglected children - Pay for the birth control to minimize this disaster.

Mar 10, 2012 12:33PM

it will more than likely grow up to be just a worthless leach too.... tired of the 'what about the children' crap..... get you ef'n hands out of my wallet.

you can't feed 'em then don't breed 'em!

Mar 9, 2012 7:54PM
you know the old saying cant feed  dont breed  America is tried of feeding all of your inbred kids
Mar 9, 2012 7:48PM

The idea that insurance companies will provide free birth control is a fallacy.  That being said, birth control has little to do with the real reason for this controversy which began with the healthcare mandate.  Rather than being concerned about birth control people should be focused on the real reason of the controversy which is whether the state can force a church to go against its principles and morals.  That is it.  Birth control and women's health are the topics that have been added to this controversy through twisting and spinning the debate to take the focus away from the unconstitutional mandate placed on employers/insurance providers affected by this aspect of the healthcare bill.  Religious freedom is one of the founding principles of this country.  It is one of the major reasons that our forefathers left their homes and came to this land.  If you want a valid reason for the separation of church and state, this is it.  The government has no right to tell a church what that they must betray their values in this or any other lawful principle.  For those of you who think that it is acceptable for the state to force this upon the Catholic church, where does the forcing stop and how long do you think it will be until you are being forced to betray your values?

Mar 10, 2012 3:40PM

A lot of the Planned Parenthoods in my area have been shut down, so I doubt anyone is getting anything from there. Though it is true, there ARE places that do give them out, and I do realize that. I'm arguing the point with individuals who don't think that sort of aid should exist.

And to a below comment, YES there are diseases and illnesses that are treated with contraceptive pills that have nothing to do with STDs. There are women such as myself that have polycystic ovaries, in which birth control pills assist the body in removing potentially harmful and cancerous cysts, there are women who suffer from extreme bleeding and pain with their periods and need to take birth control pills to assist in giving them a more tolerable menstruation that won't interfere with their day to day activities. There are women who suffer from hormone problems and use birth control pills to help their body produce a normal and healthy amount of estrogen.

Not to mention that plenty of married women, or women that have never been in more than one or two long term physical relationships in their life, have a right to take birth control pills, have their insurance cover their fair share of that cost, and not be labeled as harlots. Especially when their only desire is to not become pregnant. Maybe they just don't want children, that's their right, maybe they just want to wait until they are in a better financial situation to have children. I wish more people did, to be honest.

Mar 10, 2012 9:16AM
if you want birth control coverage then get a policy that covers it. why should i pay an extra premium when my family is not ever gonna use them? if we decide in the future we need that that type of coverage then we will pay the extra money. if you want dental and eye coverage you pay the extra premium, if you don't need it you don't pay it. how is this different?????
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