Over at RH Reality Check, Emily Crockett has a nice piece on the Obamacare birth control benefit. It grew out of a Twitter exchange she had with Timothy B. Lee, the latest libertarian dudebro to join Ezra Klein’s new Vox journalism outfit. Crockett had tweeted that she thought it was “creepy” for an employer to decide “whether you can get birth control.” Lee tweeted back at her, “Luckily, people are free to pay for their own birth control.”


Few political stories of the past couple of years have exposed the not-so-subtle misogyny of much of the political/pundit class like the “debate” over coverage of birth control under the ACA — beginning with the fact that that we are even debating this topic in the first place. The vehemence of the disdain and scorn that is reserved for coverage of women’s reproductive health in general, and of birth control in particular, can be attributed only to the low regard with which women continue to be held throughout our society.

There are plenty of good counterarguments to Lee’s ignorance, and Crockett touches on most of them. The argument I like best, which is among those she discusses, is the economic one — and it’s one that should be patently obvious to a reporter like Lee, who reports on tech and economics for a living. It’s based on the simple concept that for employees, compensation is compensation, whether it’s in the form of wages or benefits. The compensation the employee earns is hers to spend, not her employer’s. No one is “buying” the employee anything; she herself has earned her own benefits out of her own wages.

Also bogus is the idea that employers are somehow being forced to subsidize birth control. A health plan that includes birth control saves money on costs associated with pregnancy. It’s more economically rational for the insurer to cover birth control because it’s cheaper than the alternative of only covering pregnancy and childbirth.

Finally, I would add that one of the underlying assumptions of these kinds of conversations — that contraception is some kind of exclusively lady dealio that has nothing whatsoever to do with men — is also quite bizarre. If you’re a straight guy who enjoys having sex but doesn’t relish the idea of becoming the next Jim Bob Duggar, then you are a person who strongly benefits from the birth control provision of the ACA, full stop.

Seriously, why is this basic issue so hard for these guys to understand? Especially since they are getting paid to understand economics and politics for a living in the first place?

Kathleen Geier

Kathleen Geier is a writer and public policy researcher who lives in Chicago. She blogs at Inequality Matters. Find her on Twitter: @Kathy_Gee