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?




Copyright © 2014 Microsoft. All rights reserved.

Fundamental company data and historical chart data provided by Morningstar Inc. Real-time index quotes and delayed quotes supplied by Morningstar Inc. Quotes delayed by up to 15 minutes, except where indicated otherwise. Fund summary, fund performance and dividend data provided by Morningstar Inc. Analyst recommendations provided by Zacks Investment Research. StockScouter data provided by Verus Analytics. IPO data provided by Hoover's Inc. Index membership data provided by Morningstar Inc.