Public health officials and women’s rights groups are cheering the recent recommendation of the Institute of Medicine that “health insurers should pay for a range of services for women at no cost, including birth control, counseling on sexually transmitted diseases, and AIDS screening.”
But unsurprisingly, many on the right immediately lashed out at the decision, denouncing it as “feminist pork” or tantamount to government-sponsored abortion. Some particularly vile reactions came from Fox News, where host Greg Gutfeld said eliminating birth control co-pays was part of a much more sinister leftist plot:
GUTFELD: If you’re talking about free birth control, who’s going to use free birth control? The people who can’t afford it. So the left has figured out a way to eradicate the poor, and it’s by eradicating the poor!
On another Fox News segment, the contributor and host decided that birth control wasn’t necessary if women would “just stop having irresponsible sex.” Fox News’ America’s Newsroom’s Heather Childers discussed the IOM recommendation with Sandy Rios, president of Family-PAC Federal. Rios personally attacked a female physician who supported the decision as “a disgrace to our gender.” She then proposed that women don’t really need birth control, saying, “Let women stop having irresponsible sex. […] Let’s stop making excuses and providing a way to get women out of trouble when they should be responsible in their behavior.”
Childers quickly agreed that it’s “not too much to ask for everyone to stop having irresponsible sex.”
In the U.S., 15.3 million women use hormonal birth control, which is one of the most frequently-prescribed medications in America. Rios’ accusation is ironic given that most women think they are behaving responsibly precisely by using birth control to prevent unwanted pregnancies. But Fox News apparently believes those 15.3 million just need to stop sleeping around. Contraception improves women’s health and reduces the need for abortions, but the cost is often prohibitive for low-income women. The IOM’s ruling opens the door for government-subsidized birth control, which a recent national poll found 78 percent of Americans support.