Thursday, March 15, 2012
The Contraception Wars
You can call me old-fashioned if you want to, but I do not approve of or condone premarital or extra-marital sexual intercourse.
The call on extra-marital sex is pretty easy. Not only is “Thou shalt not commit adultery” one of the Ten Commandments, it is quite clear that adulterous activity could only damage a marriage relationship and despoil the marriage covenant. Like all the other commandments, this one too was given for the sake of individual happiness and the well-being of the community.
The matter of premarital sex is not quite so clear, although the Bible is fairly explicit in prohibition against “fornication,” which surely includes at least most premarital sexual activity. But in many ways things are different now than in Bible times—and plenty of people in modern society don’t claim to go by the Bible anyway.
Fifty or sixty years ago it was sometimes said that the three main reasons for not engaging in premarital sex was the fear of detection, infection, and conception. With the sexual revolution of the 1960s, people began to attach less and less stigma to premarital sex, so the detection deterrent was greatly weakened. Then with the effectiveness and availability of penicillin, the fear of infection also greatly decreased. (Of course, the growing frequency of HIV/AIDS has once again increased that fear for many people.)
So then we come to the matter of conception. In years past, there was generally societal disapproval of single women who got pregnant. But even now when there is far less stigma, the burden of becoming a mother without the support of a nurturing mate/father is great indeed. (Of course there are some cohabitating men who function like a good husband, but I wonder if such cases tend to be the exception more than the rule.)
If people are going to have premarital sex, which probably going to be the case for a large majority of unmarried people in the U.S. today, it seems as though making contraception available for those who need it is the prudent thing to do. Would that increase premarital sexual activity? Possibly. Would that decrease the number of children born out of wedlock as well as the number of abortions? Most probably.
So while I do not approve or condone premarital sex, I not only support making contraception available to women who feel the need for it, I agree that insurance policies, including those provided by any employer, ought to include coverage for contraception.
There are those who argue that conception is not a disease, and, of course, it isn’t. But it can certainly be argued that having unwanted children (or an abortion) is not good for the health of any woman. Health insurance should be for the purpose of promoting health of mind and body, not just paying for the treatment of illness or injury.
So, it seems quite clear that the concerted opposition to contraceptives being provided by health insurance paid for by employers, to say nothing of the asinine remarks by Rush Limbaugh about the Georgetown University law student, is missing the mark and deserves the considerable criticism it has received.
Note: For those interested in reading more along this line, I recommend this excellent article by Richard Cizik on the blog of The New Evangelical Partnership for the Common Good.