This week’s Viewpoints question is ripped from recent headlines locally as well as nationally.
Q: Is contraception a government or a private issue? Why?
The issue of government involvement in the contraception debate came up again last week as the New Hanover County Commissioners struck down family planning funding for an IUD contraceptive for the local health department.
Public backlash against the decision culminated in a large protest last Thursday (March15).
Nationally, the Obama administration has been negotiating with faith groups for more control in the birth control mandate.
Here are a few responses from our writers. Add your own reactions below.
Contraceptives are not anything new. They have been around for quite some time. They have been both helpful and harmful to women, but, in either case, it was the women who elected to take it or not to take it. Should the government fund programs to support illnesses that were brought on by immorality or is this issue to be seen as a medical concern? There are some women who do not choose to have any more children. It may be because of health and age concerns. Abortion may be an option for them, but they choose the lesser of the two challenges to preserve their lives and perhaps the lives of fetuses. So if this can be understood as preventive health measures, then it should be funded just as any other medicine.
In focusing solely on contraception, the commissioners chose to ignore, or were simply ignorant, that the vast majority of these grants go to preventative medicine, including breast and gynecological exams.
On the question of whether contraception is a matter for government or individuals there are two clear issues to be addressed.
Firstly, it is not the place of government to legislate morality between consenting adults. Sexual choice must always be a matter for individuals. The persistent attempts by the religious right to commandeer government to impose dogmatic positions is a deliberate attempt to reduce civil liberties and the basic right to freedom of action.
Secondly, and in contrast to the first position, it should be the role of government to provide the best health resources available to those who need them, based on medical knowledge and research.
Abstinence only policies have been a disastrous failure in preventing unwanted pregnancies. Worse, the lack of contraception, proper family planning and sexual education leads to the spread of lethal and costly STDs.
It is time American legislators step away from the reactionary dogma of the pulpit and take a rational, educated and caring attitude to the vitally important policies they enact.
Share your viewpoint below!