Sexist Contraceptives Debate Inherently Ridiculous

Sophia Bollag, Managing Editor

In January, the Obama administration proposed a rule requiring all businesses, including Catholic ones, to provide insurance coverage of the birth control pill to employees. Ever since, debate about coverage and usage of the pill has dominated the 2012 presidential race. Members of Congress and media organizations have held highly publicized all-male panels to show the administration’s rule infringes on the rights of Catholics who believe birth control inhibits the will of God.

What these contraceptives discussions have been missing (aside from women) is any mention of the other incredibly popular pharmaceutical drug that affects reproduction: Viagra.

There is really no good reason why men who take so much offense to birth control are making no argument whatsoever against Viagra, an erectile dysfunction drug covered by practically every employee insurance plan in the country. Viagra and other ED drugs are almost as effective in causing pregnancy as the pill is in preventing it. So how is it that God’s plan can accommodate Viagra, but not the pill?

There is clearly a double standard when it comes to medical coverage of drugs affecting reproduction. The pill is a fairly simple pharmaceutical, its active ingredient being synthetic estrogen. When it was approved for contraceptive use in the United States in 1960, it was considered a victory for women’s rights in large part because it allowed women to be more active members of the workforce by reducing pregnancy rates and subduing symptoms of premenstrual syndrome that had previously forced some women to miss work every month. For anyone to suggest that a woman experiencing a week of pain and internal bleeding is less deserving of medical treatment than a man who’s having trouble getting it up is offensive.

However, many politicians nationwide, most of them male, most of them Republican, and most notably presidential candidate Rick Santorum, are inadvertently doing just that. If a politician were to suggest companies stop providing coverage of Viagra in employee health plans, they would justly be laughed out of the race. We should hold politicians who call for the same thing with regards to birth control to the same standard.

The current administration’s rule does not force anyone to take birth control against their will, but simply ensures that it be available to those who choose to take it. It is therefore an affirmation of personal freedom, not a restriction of it. Opponents to the rule should quit while they are ahead, before someone starts demanding the government take away their Viagra.