‘Access’ means ‘you get it for free’? The president’s dangerous edict
Despite the cloak of compromise, President Obama’s promise still holds: All women will be given free contraceptives and abortion-inducing drugs, courtesy of the Obama administration, through the vehicle of mandated health insurance. If the employer has religious objections, too bad. Any religious employer that is not exempt as a church will still be forced to pay an insurance company for health coverage, and in exchange for that payment the company will provide insurance coverage for its employees as well as drugs and services that violate the employer’s religious beliefs.
In announcing this sham compromise, President Obama repeated the rhetoric heard ad nauseam from his press secretary Jay Carney over the course of the last week – that all women must “have access to contraceptive services.”
Notice the use of the word “access.” In two Press Briefings last week, Carney said: “The President is committed to making sure that all women have access to these important preventive services.” Later: “…making sure that women of all faiths have access to these important health care preventive services.” And: “The President wants to make sure that women have access to contraception without paying any extra costs.”
But all women have access to contraception today, do they not? There’s no law against birth control drugs, devices, procedures, services or methods. Nor are there any laws against the sale of the abortion-inducing drugs that fall under the mandate. All people have complete and total access to these things today.
So why the mantra-like misuse of the word “access?”
The Obama team doesn’t really mean “access,” of course, they mean, “you get it for free.” Their regulations even forbid co-payments and deductible payments. All women will be given contraception and abortion drugs completely free-of-charge through this presidential mandate.
Longtime pro-lifers will remember when “access” became the new watchword for Big Abortion a decade ago. Before that, the slogan was “Who decides?” I suspect the earlier phrase was found lacking because it begged the question: Decide what? “Access,” on the other hand, is a rhetorical step backward from the bloody truth. It suggests a mere opening of the door.
No one can dispute that the legal door to contraceptives in the United States was flung wide-open decades ago; and, in fact, UN statistics show the U.S. has nearly the highest prevalence of contraceptive use on the planet. Over 90 percent of private health plans cover contraceptives, and the federal government spends about $2 billion on family planning each year. When it comes to abortion, the United States has the highest abortion rate in the western world, and third-highest of all developed nations worldwide.
There’s a deeper history to the misuse of “access” in this context, however. When Roe v. Wade nullified all state law limitations to abortion, the abortion lobby wanted even more – not just legal abortion, but free abortions for low-income women. They went to court arguing that women who could not afford to pay for their abortions were actually denied the right to abortion. Unless government funded free abortions for poor women, the argument went, their constitutional rights would be violated.
This was the genesis of the “access means free” theory, and from Maher v. Roe in 1977 to Rust v. Sullivan in 1991, abortion activists tried this theory in half-a-dozen trips to the Supreme Court. Each and every time it failed. Yet it remains the single most important goal and aspiration of the “abortion rights” movement.
And here it is again. Is it any wonder Planned Parenthood fought so hard for ObamaCare, or why it is so enthusiastic in its applause for the new “compromise”? Unless the government provides free birth control and abortion drugs for all women (by forcing their employers or insurers to cover them), women will not “have access to these important prevention services.” What the abortion lobby couldn’t accomplish through the courts it has accomplished through President Obama’s brutish edict.
But what we are seeing is even more than a political end-run on abortion. It is a profound transformation of the very relationship between government and the governed. If our right to something depends completely upon whether government gives it to us — if we have no “access” to things unless government provides them to us “for free” — then government becomes the source of all we have and all we desire. It is an Orwellian nightmare.