The Contraceptive Mandate Controversy Isn’t Just About Religious Freedom But Economic Freedom Too

So far the battle over the Obama administrations contraceptive mandate has been described as another front in the so-called “culture wars” between social conservatives and, well, everybody else. I think that’s inaccurate. I am not a social conservative. I’m a social libertarian, but while I have no moral objection to these contraceptives, I do have an objection to law which requires that one group of people purchase them for another group of people especially when the latter group has a moral/religious objection.

But one aspect of this debate that has been little talked about is the economic freedom at stake. After the initial controversy over this mandate broke, President Obama announced an “accommodation” which would require health insurance companies to provide contraceptive coverage for free when a given employer objects to paying for it.

Does the federal government really have the authority to order a private company to give away its products for free? And what about the hit insurance companies will take from providing that free coverage?

The trade group America’s Health Insurance Plans has limited its comments to saying it worries about the “precedent” the mandate would set. The concern is that the government could eventually require health plans to cover any number of preventive services – even prescription drugs – without copays or deductibles, under the theory that they save money in the long-term.

Privately, however, insurers say there’s nothing “free” about preventing unwarranted pregnancies. They say the mandate also covers costly surgical sterilization procedures, and that in any case even the pill has up-front costs.

“Saying it’s revenue-neutral doesn’t mean it’s free and that you’re not paying for it,” an industry source told The Hill.

If there is one fundamental truth in life, it is that nothing is free. The President cannot wave a magic wand and make contraceptive coverage free. It has cost, and insurance companies will have to build that cost into their prices for other coverage. Meaning that all of us, up to and including the religious organizations that object to contraceptive coverage, will be paying for it.

Now, again, the left would like this to be a debate over whether or not contraceptives are moral, which is a debate they would win because most Americans (sorry Catholics) use contraceptives and don’t think of themselves as immoral. But that’s not what this debate is about.

This debate is about whether the government can force you to pay for contraceptives, or if you’re an insurance company, whether or not the government can force you to provide certain services free of charge. The government has no more business forcing us to buy contraceptive coverage, or forcing insurance companies to provide it, than they would mandating purchases of Chevy Volts.

Rob Port is the editor of In 2011 he was a finalist for the Watch Dog of the Year from the Sam Adams Alliance and winner of the Americans For Prosperity Award for Online Excellence. In 2013 the Washington Post named SAB one of the nation's top state-based political blogs, and named Rob one of the state's best political reporters.

Related posts

  • WOOF

    Births are more expensive.
    Contraception protects profits.

    • headward

      If used correctly.  The plans should be up to the insurance companies on what they provide and cover, not the government.

  • howiseeit

    Apparently the libs would like to confuse the general public into thinking that this is debate about contraceptives.  Lets make sure nobody is confused that we are not a dictatorship and Obama is not a dictator and we have throw his a?? out in November.

  • Neiman

    If the entire world made child molestation legal, would it or would it not remain immoral? Just because most Americans use contraceptives does not make it moral, it remains what it is – immoral.

    You would make it a case of economic liberty and even though that has merit, it is because you personally could not stand it being overturned on moral grounds. It must be fought as a matter of the First Amendment and that only or the First Amendment.

  • Roy_Bean

    Step 1.  Provide free contraceptives to all for economic and social reasons.
    Step 2.  Require the use of these free contraceptives for economic and social reasons.
    Step 3.  Impose penalties on those who don’t use free contraceptives.
    Step 4.  Require a permit for reproduction.
    Step 5.  Mandate abortions for those who don’t comply.

    This isn’t a parody, it isn’t a joke, it’s China and it’s what the democrats want here.

  • Matthew

    This is about economic freedom.  The economic freedom of the young women who get pregnant without the income, education or support of the father to adequately care for a child.

    The reason I am pro-abortion is because I spent years in family court.  I saw countless kids who were beaten, molested, abused and neglected.  I came to the conclusion that if somebody tells me they don’t want to be a parent, than I don’t want them to be a parent.  It usually doesn’t turn out well.

    • mickey_moussaoui

      So these young girls with a lack of personal discipline trump
      the religious freedom of those who object to paying for someones abortion?
      We already have programs where these girls can get birth control and abortions. No one is trying to take that away. So what is your point?

      • $8194357

        His point mickey is a top down leftist talking point and nothing more…IMO..

  • Senator Tim Mathern

    I agree that the U.S. Department of Health and
    Human Services’ (HHS) final rule regarding preventive health services and
    contraception is on a bumpy road. 


    Increasing coverage of preventive
    services is important for improving the overall health of our citizens and reducing
    health care costs.  The health reform law requires insurers to provide
    coverage for preventive services recommended by independent boards of medical
    experts.  At the same time, the Constitution protects religious freedom. 
    The original HHS rule on preventive services fell short in balancing these rights
    and health care reform goals.


    The Institute of Medicine sent
    recommendations to HHS suggesting that it should include all approved forms of
    contraception among those preventive services to be covered without cost
    sharing.  HHS adopted this recommendation but also exempted employers
    whose primary purpose is to promote religious beliefs, such as churches from
    this requirement. Other non-profit faith-based organizations would not originally
    have been covered by this exemption. 


    Ensuring access to preventive
    health services saves lives and can help reduce health care costs.  At the
    same time, we need to respect religious beliefs.  I’m pleased that President
    Obama recognized this and modified the rule proposal. This is
    a step in the right direction.  I believe he will
    continue to seek accommodations on this issue. 


    Neither the original rule nor the
    new proposal covers abortion services. They do not require health
    providers to prescribe contraception.  They do not force any individual to
    purchase or use contraceptives.

    The debate helps our country sort through tough public
    policy questions in a spirit of working toward what is the common good. I remain committed to working with the Obama Administration and others to
    fully implement the Affordable Care Act to extend comprehensive and quality
    health care to many who suffer today from the lack of it.

    Senator Tim Mathern

    • $8194357

      It isn’t about contraception IMO…Some pretty long arms reaching un-constituionally out of the White House these days, no?
      What the heck kind of destroy our founding Documents “mission statement” did ya all sign onto anyway?
      In Liberty and Faith,

    • fedupny

       With all due respect Senator, as being Roman Catholic myself, I can’t understand how you can rationalize the church doctrine and this law and reconcile it within yourself.

      By requiring insurance companies to cover this is only adding another layer of obfuscation. The people will pay for it, no matter what you may say. This is not about access, there already is access. It’s about hiding who is really paying for it. There is no difference between the first and second rule.

      The independent boards, it turns out, were not so independent.

      “The HHS commissioned the Institute of Medicine (IOM) to draw up a list of preventive services that should be covered. There is strong evidence that the committee charged with this was ideologically biased with direct ties to the abortion industry. As HLI America National Director Arland Nichols reveals in his exposition of bias within the IOM, several committee members had strong ties to Planned Parenthood and NARAL Pro-Choice America. In fact, 11 of the 15 IOM committee members who supported the measure collectively contributed $116,500 to pro-choice organizations and political candidates, and there is no evidence that any of them had ever contributed to a pro-life candidate or organization.”

      It is also my understanding that the “morning after” pill is covered under this. Contraception by definition means to stop conception. The pill may not do this, conception may have happened. So to say that no abortive services are covered is not true.

      The law is just a shell game, and as a catholic, you should be angry that you were fleeced, unless of course, you believe the church should “change with the times” and adapt to the sinners.


      • $8194357

        It may take divine intervention to get a answer out of him, no? Water boarding for truth perhaps?
        the ruling eliet are so above us little folk…You know…Taxpayers whos backs they ride and money they squander…God bless, fedup

        • fedupny

           I’ll admit that I didn’t know who he was until I looked him up and saw that he was a Roman Catholic… not familiar with ND politicians. To see that he posts the talking points and whitewashes the areas where there are real concerns to his “faith” was disturbing. There is no collective salvation and he and others will have to answer for their support of killing innocent lives.

          I don’t expect him to answer 7point, he would only have to contort his principles even more.

          • $8194357

            And heres one for ya a bit on the lighter side…

            My Daughter’s Moving Out
            Last night, my daughter just walked into the living room and said,”Dad, cancel my allowance immediately, rent my room out, throw all my clothes out of the window, take my TV, stereo, iPhone, iPod, and my laptop. Please take all of my jewelry to the Salvation Army or Goodwill. Then sell my new car. Take my front door key away from me and throw me out of the house. Then disown me and never talk to me
            again. And don’t forget to write me out of your will and leave my share to my sister.
            “Well, she didn’t put it quite like that. She actually said…
            ‘Dad, I have decided to work for Obama’s re-election campaign.'”

          • fedupny

             lol… funny stuff!!

      • $8194357

        This “state sponsered moral values” crap is getting old as well, IMO..
        After the Super Bowl a reporter gets fired for a “slur” against Gays…
        And now this….What was the offense that cost these two their jobs at ESPN?
        This nation has became so “thin skined” about crimes against “thought or word” it is pathetic..this is what the Marxist envisioned for the ultimate wedge issues to divide and conqure a free country on a set of secular false moral prinicples…A secular religion of ‘intolerance” and “diversity” (in their own words: To rub raw the wounds of racism so that they will never heal) that is designed to end freedom of thought or expression “unless” they align with state aproved standards and Constituionaly protected liberties be damned..

        ESPN said Sunday it fired an employee and suspended an anchor for using “offensive and inappropriate comments” in its coverage of Asian-American Knicks phenomenon Jeremy Lin.

        The moves come after ESPN apologized for a headline that appeared on’s mobile website following the Knicks’ 89-85 loss to the New Orleans Hornets on Friday.

        apologized for its Jeremy Lin headline, but this isn’t a first offense for the media giant.

        The phrase, which carries obvious racial overtones when used in reference to a person of Asian descent, appeared on the site for more than 30 minutes before being removed at around 3:05 a.m. ET on Saturday.
        The expression was also used by ESPN anchor Max Bretos on Wednesday when he asked a question about Lin’s weaknesses during an interview with Hall of Fame guard Walt Frazier.

        The network announced Sunday that it had fired the employee responsible for the headline and was suspending an anchor for 30 days for
        “offensive and inappropriate comments”
        used during its coverage of Lin.
        The anchor is reportedly Bretos.
        ESPN also said Sunday it had learned a similar phrase was used by ESPN Radio New York.
        ESPN said that it had not taken action for the radio incident because the commentator was not an ESPN employee.

        With each passing game, Jeremy Lin’s legend grows. We’ve got it covered from every angle.
        Pastor to Lin:
        Beware ‘sinsanity’

        Why we shouldn’t be surprised this the next Jeremy Lin?

        “We again apologize, especially to Mr. Lin,” ESPN said in a statement. “His accomplishments are a source of great pride to the Asian-American community, including the Asian-American employees at ESPN.

        ( Through self-examination, improved editorial practices and controls, and response to constructive criticism, we will be better in the future.”)

        “Wholly Marxist critical therory applied to confrom BATMAN”
        “Can we please throw are selfs on a sword to make ammends?”
        False quilt and shame game for any “state approved offense”.
        If your not on that “protected status list”? GTH”…Said 7.62 white Christian conservitive “EQUAL under the law Constituionalist…(did you have to say throw yourself on a sword in an opinion on a story about an Asian…How bigoted!!!!!!! You all know the rest of the drill…

    • $8194357

      American government/The best money can buy, no Tim?

      Obama joins crowd trying to buy the election

      Posted on February 19, 2012 by Cowboy Byte

      How many billionaires does it take to buy a presidential election?
      We’re about to find out. The 2012 campaign probably will be a battle between one group of millionaires and billionaires supporting President Obama and another group supporting his GOP rival.Perhaps this was the inevitable result of the Supreme Court’s grotesque decision in Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission in 2010, which opened the floodgates to unrestricted campaign money through super PACs. But I’m not sure. What if Obama had stuck to his guns and eschewed super PACs?

      International progressive hedgefund bankers (Soros and OSI) back Democrats while Americans like the Koch Brothers to counter over seas cash..
      Crony capitalist profiteering is killing America so we can get on with the global agenda, perhaps?

      Your thoughts on any of it?

  • Opinionated

    Funny that they seem preoccupied with free birth control. There are no free cancer drugs, there are no free high blood pressure medications, there are no free eyeglasses/contacts for everyone, but they want to give free birth control to all women regardless if income, regarless if they use it regularly, regardless if physicians win free trips for writing so many prescriptions….If we give them free birth control and they become pregnant can we take their kids and sell them to recoup the cost of birth control? 

    • $8194357

      (Funny that they seem preoccupied with free birth control.)

      We are all here arguing the devils details when we should be taking notice of Democrats and RINO’s shreadding our founding documents…This soviet central power ponzi is in the stages of fascist tyrrany with its regulatory agencies, punitive powers and Czars for each “agenda” only answerable to the White House…Every cause has us lose focus of the larger battle lines drawn here, no?

    • Dakotacyr

      This is why this is a loser issue for the republicans.  If we give “them” as if they are not people.  Hey as I said earlier, you want to reduce pregnancies, gentleman, keep it in your pants.  You write as if men have no responsibility but yet most of the men on here have been screaming about women getting contraception through their health insurance and yet haven’t heard you talk about Viagara.

      Oh yea, I forgot, Viagara is for men with a medical problem.  Well women have medical problems too, it is the men with medical problems.

      • Rob

        So now you’re offended by pronouns?

        My goodness.

        Again, it’s not about contraception.  It’s about choice.  I’d be against a mandate for Viagra coverage too, Dakota.

        I know it’s a lot easier for you to pretend like this is about the right trying to deny access to contraceptives, but it really isn’t.  It’s about individual liberty.

        Your desire for contraceptives is not a mortgage upon my ability to pay for them.

        • Dakotacyr

          Well we pay either way.  We pay for those who have children out of wedlock who didn’t have access to contraception.  

  • Randy G

    Obama is getting good at using Constitutional powers that don’t exist.

  • $8194357

    Since Barry and Soros pulled off this coup its “all about” silencing Constituional critics of socialized government and the tipping point we’ve reached to fascist tyrany. IF we have elections this time around you can bet the farm it will be nasty and corrupt with billions of internationalist money on the “leftist horse”…Ballots before bullets and Prayer before both, IMHO….

  • SigFan

    By continually using the words contraceptive and contraception the left masks the fact that they are advocating for free abortion inducing drugs as well.  I think that most people, even Catholics, have no huge issue with preventing unwanted pregnancies through the use of condoms or birth control pills.  Whether that is a moral viewpoint is really between the person and their faith in God or lack thereof. Ending them through the use of the morning after pill is quite a different issue – and the one that the left is trying to avoid discussing at all costs. Government forcing people to subsidize something that violates their constitutionally guaranteed right to religious freedom and the free exercise of their religion is the issue – and no amount of smoke-screening by the left and the media will change that.

  • Senator Tim Mathern

    There is a need to sort through the abortion issues and the preventing pregnancy issues. Even the science of it is complicated.

    Then there is the issue of women in vulnerable situations like being intellectually disabled or being in a situation of an abusive relationship. These situations have different ethical dimensions than situations where that are healthy adults in a caring relationship.

    Senator Tim Mathern

    • Rob

      I understand your compassion for the vulnerable and the needy, Senator, but I don’t understand your support for trampling our economic and religious liberty.

      The government should no more be able to force Catholics to pay for contraception than they should be able to force Ford owners to by a Chevy.

      • Dakotacyr

        no one is making you buy a Chevy.  But I shouldn’t have to pay for an unwanted and preventable pregnancy for 18 years and that is the choice you are failing to recognize.  No that is economic freedom but you don’t talk about that.