Monday, April 8, 2013

Plan B is Plan A

I write this at some risk to my reputation as a Conservative, especially with those who are ardently pro-life.  Additionally, I realize that unlike some, I am equal parts "Conservative" and "Republican", meaning that I have a guiding ideology that alloys with a desire to actually win elections.

I write today in favor of "our team" becoming more favorable toward the "Morning After" Pill specifically and birth control generally. This isn't an easy position for me to take, as it does grate against some more deeply held positions I hold.  But for the long run, the path we are on is a loser.

Let's start with Plan B.  It was in the news this week, as a judge has ordered the FDA to make Plan B available to girls under the age of 17 without parental consent and without prescription. This rightly strikes many Conservatives as inappropriate, as their girls of this age are more than likely to need parental notes and school permission to take Tylenol, yet are free now to purchase Plan B with not so much as a fare thee well.  I understand this view.  I have sympathy for it.  But ultimately, I'm OK with it.  Abortion is simply an insoluble issue.  A large bloc of voters believe that the right to have one ought to reside with the woman carrying the future life, and a large bloc of voters believe the future life enjoys rights equal to or even greater than that of the mother (in that this life is innocent and particularly vulnerable).  I simply see no real "compromise" in which this issue ever goes stops dominating the political discourse--and frankly, as long as it does, it will hurt Conservatives.  

So I recommend an indirect approach.  That is, do what we can to take the issue largely off the table.  Plan B offers that possibility.

It offers the possibility of many women getting control of their reproductive lives without 1) any knowledge of or confirmation that they are indeed pregnant, and in fact, very few of them will be and 2) the stigma of the highly politicized and deeply emotional trip to the abortion clinic.  What I seek is to make the modern concept of abortion RARE, thereby lessening its political impact.  Yes, there will still be abortions such as we are used to today.  Some women will not think to take Plan B after unprotected sex.  Some women will become pregnant even using protection.  There will certainly continue to be a place for this discussion and people on both sides who will stick to their positions.  The difference will be one of degree, in that the potential exists to dramatically reduce the number of abortions in our country through increased availability of Plan B.  Republicans should work to find ways to make this a policy choice--continuing to make staunch opposition to abortion a centerpiece of our politics is not wise, yet adding a woman-friendly concept which includes support for Plan B's availability both in the public and private insurance markets and without prescription, is important.

Next, Republicans should lead the charge to have Birth Control Pills become available without prescription.  Leading OB/GYN's have advocated for this for years, and it would 1) take the whole question of funding birth control out of the healthcare debate and 2) dramatically decrease the cost of what is now a fairly inexpensive medication.  For some reason, Republicans/Conservatives have decided to take a stand against this ONE GROUP of medicines, even as we drive to the Rite Aid to pick up yet another dose of anti-biotics for yet another sick kid subsidized by all the other payers into our insurance pools.   The Obama Administration's fiat directing that Birth Control be available without Co-Pay is clearly overstepping the line, and should be protested.  Yet removing this class of medicines from the prescription world would render even the co-pays moot.  In the meantime, Republicans should champion some kind of initiative in which those who work for companies with moral reservations against providing birth control can obtain birth control at prices competitive with other insurance plans.  This could involve a government subsidy--but Republicans would have to eat that in order to retain the policy goals of retaining religious consciousness objections, recognizing the importance of family planning to modern American families and decreasing the number of abortions in the country.

I realize there are a ton of principled objections to what I propose here.  But in the end, when you're in a hole, you gotta stop digging.

1 comment:

LL said...

I don't think that your position is either anti-conservative or that it favors abortion. It's a practical view of the world in the present day.

The Republican Party as presently constituted does a poor job (maybe a C-) in offering REAL solutions to people's problems, which along with poor organization nationwide, is why we still have an ObamaNation to contend with.

I personally would prefer far more limited government than even the Republicans propose in terms of the impact on the lives of average people, but I'm in the minority with that.

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