THE BLOG

A Dying Civilization?

08/03/2011 05:43 pm ET | Updated Oct 03, 2011

In case you missed it, the end of civilization is at hand, and it has nothing to do with the Mayan calendar. The handwriting is on the wall: beginning next year the federal government will require health insurance companies as part of the new Affordable Health Care Act to cover birth control for women as a free preventive service without a required copay.

Gasp! Can you imagine what that means? Can you even begin to fathom what that will do to the very fabric of this country when low-income women who are struggling to feed their families don't have to worry about paying a monthly co-pay for birth control pills?

Fortunately for the preservation of the republic and all that we hold dear as a country and a civilization, we have vigilant watchdogs in Congress, like Rep. Steve King of Iowa. Upon hearing that Kathleen Sebelius, the Secretary of Health and Human Services, had approved the recommendation that was made by the Institute of Medicine, King took to the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives to sound the alarm.

Challenging the very idea that contraceptives could qualify as preventive health care, here's what he said: "Well if you applied that preventative medicine universally what you end up with is you've prevented a generation. Preventing babies from being born is not medicine. That's not -- that's not constructive to our culture and our civilization. If we let our birth rate get down below replacement rate we're a dying civilization."

A dying civilization? According to the U.S. Census Bureau's latest projection, the population of the United States, currently 312 million, will grow to 439 million by 2050. World population, according to the UN, will reach 7 billion this year and rise to 9.3 billion by mid-century. What were those doctors at the Institute of Medicine thinking? Don't they realize that the U.S. and the world are teetering on the verge of extinction? Don't they realize what they are doing to human civilization by making contraceptives more affordable for American women?

What doctors at the Institute of Medicine know, and what Rep. King fails to realize, is that four out of ten pregnancies in America are unintended, meaning that the woman did not intend to get pregnant at that time she got pregnant. And while Rep. King may regard an unintended pregnancy as a good thing from the standpoint of preserving civilization, it's definitely not a good thing from the standpoint of women who want to delay a pregnancy for medical reasons. Spacing pregnancies apart by up to 18 months can substantially reduce complications from pregnancy, including maternal deaths.

I'm not suggesting that Rep. King believes that women who want to delay a pregnancy should suffer a medical complication (and possibly die) for the sake of expanding human numbers, but that's the practical effect of restricting access to birth control services. In fact, co-pays are one reason why America's maternal mortality rate is among the highest in the industrialized world.

On the other hand, Rep. King clearly believes that lowering the number of unwanted pregnancies -- by eliminating the co-pay for contraceptive services -- is a bad idea because of the critical need to keep birth rates above the "replacement level." In other words, it's a good thing if low-income women get pregnant because they are unable or unwilling to pay the monthly co-pay for contraceptives; it helps to boost population.

Rep. King has a solidly pro-life voting record. You would think that he would want to do everything possible to avoid unwanted pregnancies, as many such pregnancies in this country and elsewhere are terminated by abortion. But when confronted with the threat of a "dying civilization," Rep. King does not shrink from making the tough decisions: make women pay more for family planning.