Sex and Obamacare (Pt. 2)

By Cyberquill 06/30/20142 Comments

Supreme Court

The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled in yet another one of these pesky 5:4 decisions—where the conservative wing collectively just happens to come down on the conservative side of an issue and the liberal wing on the liberal, and we’re supposed to believe that personal druthers and ideology never factor into the rulings of these people, as if each one of them weren’t smart enough to present an erudite and compelling argument in favor of any side of any issue in perfect accordance with his or her preferred outcome—that for-profit corporations may, on religious grounds, opt out of the Affordable Care Act’s mandate to include free prescription contraception coverage in most of their health insurance plans.

In other words, your employer may no longer be required to fund your birth control if they (= your employer) fear incurring God’s wrath if they did.

As I’ve argued in a previous post, sex for purposes other than procreation constitutes an elective recreational activity no different, in principle, from going biking or mountain climbing, yet no one expects that companies be required by law to foot the bill for whatever safety equipment their employees might require in order to reduce the risk of accidents, including any attendant medical expenses incurred by such accidents, that may be sustained during the exercise of their chosen pastimes while off the clock.

Nobody argues that access to bicycle helmets is being restricted or denied simply because they’re not covered by employment insurance plans, as is being argued when certain types of contraception are being excluded from such coverage.

The issue gets complicated, however, by the fact that contraceptive medication is often prescribed for legitimate reasons other than contraception, i.e., in order to treat genuine medical conditions (as opposed to merely ensure peace of mind during a recreational activity by way of reducing the risk of undesired consequences, which, it seems to me, has just as much to do with treating a medical condition or “healthcare” at large as has a bicycle helmet), in which case the analogy between having sex for fun and going biking for fun does not apply.

Potential religious objections aside, I think company insurance plans should have to cover oral contraceptives when they are prescribed for medical reasons but not when they are prescribed for purely recreational purposes.

Of course, if I were a woman that wanted a script for birth control pills for their contraceptive effect but they were only covered if prescribed in order to combat a medical condition, I’d simply tell the doctor that these pills were the only thing I’d ever found to alleviate my debilitating cramps, irrespective of whether I’d ever had such cramps or not—who’s supposed to disprove my claim?

It would be a strategy similar to procuring medical marijuana: If you enjoy getting stoned, just tell the doctor that smoking weed was the only thing that has ever brought you relief from your chronic back pain (a condition that is impossible to refute objectively due to the intricate tangle of nerves up and down the human spine), even if you’d never felt your back in your life.

I realize I have now offered my personal solution to the problem of mandatory contraception coverage and immediately followed it up with at least one good reason why my solution wouldn’t work.

This is what I call effective argumentation.

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  • Richard

    Sexual imperatives are not recreation. Thus the analogy to riding a bicycle breaks down. Would you expect health provision to pay for a food taster to detect poison?

    My vote is against your proposal. The noes have it.

    • Cyberquill

      Sexual “imperatives”? What the heck are those? Unless they want to procreate, people do it for fun, i.e., because it makes them feel good, no different than watching a movie, eating ice cream, listening to music, getting wasted, running (“runner’s high”) or, yes, riding a bike. No doubt, it is those feel-good non-imperatives that make life worth living, but I don’t see the criteria upon which to privilege one over the other. Depends on the person, I suppose. One thinks he can’t live without sex (to wit, the kind that involves a second party and bears the risk of undesired conception), the other without music, the third without sports. Whatever floats a given person’s boat.

      I certainly don’t “expect” a health provision to cover the services of a food taster, but while they’re at it, they might as well throw it in.

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