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Wisconsin Offers “Free” Birth Control — with Your Money


06 October 2008 — Vol. 10/ No. 42

“Free birth control is only a phone call away,” assures a sunny female radio voice. “Total bill: zero. It’s not a mistake. It’s the Waiver!”

So asserts the web site of Wisconsin’s Family Planning Health Services (FPHS), a federally funded “reproductive health” group that offers contraception and STD testing to low-income women and minors. The “Waiver” that the radio voice refers to is the Family Planning Waiver Program, a tax-funded service.

According to its web site FPHS, this “not for profit” organization is dedicated to providing “high quality, affordable and accessible reproductive and nutritional services to women and their families.” FPHS insists that “knowledge of sexuality is preferable to ignorance and that prevention and health promotion are the means of achieving our purposes for people of all ages and incomes.” While they do not offer abortions, they advertise “birth control supplies, STI testing, Pap smears, exams and more . . . ”

According to a puff piece published in the Marquette Tribune, the federally-funded FPHS has “saved” the state of Wisconsin $487 million in the state health budget between 2003 and 2007. The article quotes Lon Newman, the executive director of the Wisconsin FPHS, praising the program because “on average, women spend $260 on reproductive care a year,” and that “free birth control is more effective than condoms or crossing your fingers.”

So, not only are underage and low-income women being given free birth control, but this means that Wisconsin has successfully passed the buck from its own taxpayers to the greater taxpaying public. In other words, you and I are paying for this program, while Wisconsin residents get off essentially scot-free.

Although the program is touted as being geared toward low-income women, its focus seems almost explicitly to extend no-cost birth control toward a promiscuous college scene. According to the Marquette Tribune article, Lon Newman himself was swift to point out that “all full-time students automatically qualify for the program that pays for all reproductive services except abortions,” saying that “you can enroll presumptively and then you have three months to prove eligibility . . . Once you’re enrolled you are active for a year.”

On a troubling side note, Newman’s claim that FPHS does not offer abortions is also false because FPHS does offer “emergency contraceptive pills,” or ECPs. ECPs work by preventing the newly conceived human being from implanting in the uterine wall in the days following sexual intercourse, and are thus a form of abortion. FPHS predictably touts the well-worn 1960’s-era statement by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists that redefines pregnancy as beginning at implantation, rather than at conception. Thus, they assert, ECPs “work before fertilization and not after a woman is already pregnant. When a woman is already pregnant, emergency contraception does not work.”

ECPs in particular are presented in such a way that seems like a direct appeal to college students. According to the web site, “each year, millions of women have unprotected intercourse and are left, in the days that follow, with the fear of pregnancy and the feeling that nothing can be done. Emergency contraception gives these women an option to avoid pregnancy.” The site goes on to encourage youth to stock up on ECPs, saying that “since ECPs are more effective the earlier after unprotected intercourse they are taken, obtaining emergency contraceptive pills from a clinician before they are needed is a terrific idea. Then if the need arises, ECPs can be used without delay [emphasis original].”

Even more troubling, though, is the fact that the Unintended Pregnancy Reduction Act, sponsored by none other than Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, would mandate this particular form of taxpayer-funded abuse in the remaining states and territories. Operating on the assumption that these programs save the States money, shortsighted politicians and leaders forget that children are not diseases to be “prevented.” Rather, aside from the philosophical and theological value of each human life, each of these “averted” children is an unfathomable loss to the state’s economic, social, and political well-being.

In short, while it may be expensive to raise a child, it is even more expensive, in the long run, to prevent one from being raised. Children are the world’s ultimate resource. If taxpayers pay for the destruction of children, they are ultimately funding their own economic, social, and spiritual collapse.

Colin Mason is the Director of Media Production at Population Research Institute

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