Saturday, March 03, 2012

Rush Limbaugh, contraception costs, and Sandra Fluke

America is entertaining itself with Rush Limbaugh's reaction to the political discussion about contraception subsidies. All kinds of people are attacking Limbaugh – and he probably enjoys it because he depends on publicity.

However, I find these attacks weird and kind of scary because Limbaugh's basic logic seems bulletproof to me.

Let me begin with some local background. Czechia is the most atheist country in the world. This gets reflected in many other aspects of life that even American leftists could dislike at the end. For example, every other Czech marriage eventually gets divorced. Similar and related events are completely common and most Czechs are excessively tolerant towards all kinds of activities that would earn a death penalty in one third of the world etc.

Still, contraception pills are not being paid for by the insurance companies, at least not by most of them. And those that have tried this policy usually restricted the contributions to women below 27 years of age so Sandra Fluke who is 30 wouldn't qualify even here.

But let me discuss the issue.

Sandra Fluke, a law student and activist, was invited as a Democratic witness to the U.S. Congress to argue that women should be paid by the employers or insurance companies or the government for their contraception pills etc. She or her friends can't really afford to pay it themselves, we heard. Rush Limbaugh was surprised that she has so much sex that she can't pay for that herself. And how do we call women who want to get paid for having sex, he asked?

Well, we call them sl*ts or prostitutes. We really do. In another show, Limbaugh demanded the sex tapes obtained from the events for which he sponsored the contraception pills because when we pay for something, we expect something in exchange. I think that Ms Fluke, who has previously expressed the desired to be paid for sex, should similarly publicly be flattered by this interest from Mr Limbaugh himself.

We are probably mostly talking about combined oral contraceptive pills. Although some people pretend that every woman is taking these pills today, the actual number is just 100 million women in the world and 12 million women in the U.S. The percentage of women in active age who take it goes from 1% in Japan to 35% in the U.K. Penny of the Big Bang Theory is really hot but at some point, she hadn't have sex for 6 months! So don't assume that every woman in the world has sex every day. This pill reduces the fertility chances of a woman for 1 day, maybe for 1-4 days, and thus reduces the pregnancy risk nearly to zero, so women are routinely taking it every day.

While Rush Limbaugh implicitly suggests that law students who have sex 50 times a day have to pay 50 times more money, it ain't so. But we may still talk about the frequency of sex "every day". How would you classify a woman who has sex every day? Well, a right adjective is "healthy" although "sl*t" may be appropriate for a large subset of these healthy women, too. ;-)

The idea that the "very sexually active law students" should be subsidized in this way sounds as perverse to me as it sounds to Rush Limbaugh. We're living in a "modern society" in which sex has been largely decoupled from reproduction and various old-fashioned religious taboos. At least most of the sex has been decoupled. As I mentioned, it's surely not true that this decoupling has been a "purely good news". Still, we call these organs "reproductive organs" for a good reason. If a pill makes them unable to perform this reproductive function, it is not a pill that brings health to these organs; it is a pill that makes them partly dysfunctional so you shouldn't call it a pill to achieve health. Viagra could be classified as a pill that brings health to a man because it is meant to fight against a dysfunction but "the Pill" doesn't fit into this category. Thank God, at least Bill O'Reilly understands this difference.

Fine. Even if you forget all the traditional and religious commandments about sex and its natural link to reproduction and if you cynically view sex as fun, much like watching TV or eating chocolate, the subsidies for contraception pills still look indefensible. In effect, it's a financial transfer from the people – and women – who don't have or don't expect sex every day to those who do. Why should such a financial answer occur? Should we also pay other women for their chocolates or movies in movie theaters?

You're a woman who is really needy because she loves to eat 2 pounds of Belgian chocolate a day, so I must really pay you hundreds of dollars per month to help you with your hard life. ;-) What kind of logic is this?

It makes absolutely no sense, either. If you consider sex to be just some extra fun that shouldn't be connected with any other expectations or responsibilities, then you should pay for this extra fun yourself. Or you can make the guy pay for it if you don't mind that this could partly restore your sl*t status. ;-) Can't you get the money from the guy (or guys) in a more indirect way?

Another point is that the price of the pills goes from $9 to $84 a month, at least in Chicago, so it's a minor expense, especially if you stay near the low endpoint of the interval. If you want fancy or very safe pills or whatever, well, you must pay some extra money. I can't imagine any justification for subsidies here.

The spectrum of people who have attacked Limbaugh is so wide that I no longer think that the U.S. may be faithfully described as a free or Christian country. It's a country de facto controlled by feminists and their speech codes. I think that e.g. the people at Harvard who agree with Limbaugh – and most decent people should – must shut their mouth at this point because the harassment of such people by the left-wing media and those who serve them in the contemporary U.S. has become intense and constant.

Update: a nice analysis of Left's hypocrisy in this topic was posted at Front Page Magazine.


  1. I suffer from migraine headache attacks, which involve severe pain and disability. I have spent as many as three days in dark room suffering through them. However one particular medication is virtually 100% effective in aborting an attack. But it's expensive. I used to have copay of $43 for 9 bills. Then the insurance company took the drug off their formulary. I got my doctor to request that I get an extension. That worked, but my co pay is now $93 for 9 pills. I generally have from 5 - 10 attacks per month.

    So Obama tells me I have to pay a large amount of money to deal with a genuine health problem, but women get contraception absolutely free so they can have recreational sex. Pregnancy is not a sickness, but migraines are, yet the non-sickness get 100% subsidized while the sickness doesn't.

  2. Another defense of the free contraceptive policy for women takes a public health position. Giving women free contraception is likened to getting vaccinations. Of course there is a copay for vaccinations. The idea is the contraceptives will prevent a costly childbirth. But childbirth is not a sickness. Having children is a natural healthy function of the female human body. Indeed women who have been pregnant have a lower rate of breast cancer. Insurance companies should not be forced to pay for childbirth services. That is a normal healthy process and often chosen. A sickness like having migraines is not something you choose and fits into an insurance model. Childbirth and contraception do not. You might as well force insurance companies to pay for bicycle and motorcycle helmets.

  3. In the words of Eli Rabet:
    "No slut, whore, what have you, uses birth control pills today to let them screw about. Why not? Have the clowns not heard about HIV?? Birth control pills are no barriers to HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases.

    Birth control pills as birth control are used by women in committed if not married relationships. They are also used to control the pain of menstruation and other conditions. In other words they are pharmaceuticals used to control biological functions. They are medicines. Health insurance covers medicines, and if you are lucky enough to be covered, it even covers some for others that you will never use."

  4. One compromise might be to make ordinary contraceptive pills over-the-counter drugs that don't require a doctor's prescription. That might really get the price down into the $8 range and remove this whole issue from the public policy debate.

  5. I think what the other comments are trying to communicate, with so many words, is that contraception pills are not uniquely related to sex. They are frequently prescribed by doctors to regulate cycles and other related problems.

    The question whether this pill should be paid by the government is still not trivial to me though. They should compare the health problems the pills are bring prescribed for with other health problems. Parameters such as severity and frequency in population should be taken into account, obviously.

  6. in the US, health coverage is often called health insurance because it is provided by insurance companies. those companies took over health maintenance organizations, which provided preventive medical coverage, because prevention is generally less expensive than treatment of conditions that require medical care. pregnancy and childbirth are among the covered conditions, whether or not anyone thinks they should be. it costs insurance companies more to pay for them than for contraception.

    frequency of sexual activity does not determine quantity of oral contraception. in most cases a woman has to take a pill a day for 28 days of the month. she can't stop and start again whenever she wants to. it doesn't work that way.

    by the way, sandra fluke wasn't talking about "obamacare" or use of taxpayer-funded health care. she attends law school at a private university. its student health coverage is not paid by the government.

    finally, rush limbaugh is a bully, a fearmonger, a character assassin, and a flack for the republican party. everything he says should be viewed in that light, including his claims about the "liberal" media, since most american media outlets are not owned or dominated by liberals. he has become popular with a fairly large audience of people who have been taken in by his communication skills. effective communication is not synonymous with truth. i sincerely hope you come to recognize the rhetorical and psychological techniques he uses.