Last month, a Georgetown law student named Sandra Fluke testified before Congress, offering support for portions of President Obama’s healthcare law that would mandate coverage of contraception by private insurance plans. In the wake of her testimony, Ms. Fluke was subjected to a host of vile slurs, most notably by radio commentator Rush Limbaugh.
It is truly unfortunate that Mr. Limbaugh and others chose to personally attack Ms. Fluke rather than debate the substance of the issue. I commend Ms. Fluke for her insistence in a recent CNN.com op-ed that she will not be silenced by these attacks.
My sympathy for Ms. Fluke does not, however, extend to the substance of her position.
Let me put it plainly: There is no such thing as a free lunch.
Unfortunately, in the op-ed referenced earlier Ms. Fluke does seem to suggest there is such a thing as free contraception. Arguing contraception is a “basic health care service”, she applauds the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (a.k.a. Obamacare) for mandating that “preventive care services, including contraception, will be covered by private insurance companies without co-pays or deductibles”. Ms. Fluke also insists taxpayers will not be on the hook for the cost of contraception, but that “it is all about the insurance policies provided by private employers and universities”.
On this last question, Sandra Fluke is right, and that’s exactly the point. What’s covered by a private insurance policy should be determined by a private contract. The government should have no say in the matter.
As for the idea that contraception can be provided free-of-charge without anyone footing the bill, let’s get real. Someone’s going to get stuck with paying for Ms. Fluke’s healthcare, and she knows it. In all likelihood, it will be her fellow policy-holders, who will have to pay increased premiums. But even if things work perfectly and the insurance company has to pay for the contraception out of its own pockets, is that really a good thing?
Ms. Fluke says she won’t be silenced by slurs. I know there will be hell to pay for saying what I’m about to, but l’m going to take a cue from Ms. Fluke and press on despite the accusations of selfishness and heartlessness that will likely follow.
If you use it, you should pay for it.
As a rule, it seems fair enough, but it almost feels taboo to put it into words. Don’t get me wrong, I want women to have access to contraception. But you can’t convince me I should pay for it in higher premiums, and you can’t convince me an insurance company’s shareholders should pay for it in lost profits. Why? Because my money is mine, and shareholders’ money is theirs. And we should no longer be afraid to say it.
Ms. Fluke and others may of course object that many women can’t pay for their own contraception.
The fact is there are a lot of things in life we can’t pay for, and not one of those things is a right. Why? Because someone has to make it or provide it. Take it without compensating the supplier and you’ve turned that person into a slave, take someone else’s money to pay for it and you’ve stolen.
If you need something and can’t afford it, the only moral course of action is to throw yourself on the generosity of others, not to pretend you’re entitled to what they own, and certainly not to use the government to do your stealing for you.
On the other side of the coin, we should all be charitable when possible. We should all lend an assisting hand to the people around us who need it. But we should never lose sight of the fact that charity is a gift freely given–no one is entitled to another’s labor or its fruits.
TANSTAAFL, America. Nothing’s free, Ms. Fluke.
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