Earlier this year, when an all-male congressional panel debated whether employer health plans should have to cover birth control and Rush Limbaugh lambasted law student Sandra Fluke for arguing that they should, many people were left asking, “When did birth control become controversial?” In some ways, we can thank former Rep. Henry Hyde (R.-Ill.) for setting us on this path.
The attacks on contraceptive coverage can be traced back to an amendment of his that turns 36 years old today. The Hyde Amendment prohibits coverage for abortion in the Medicaid health-insurance program for the poor in all but the most limited circumstances. This law restricts insurance coverage for reproductive health care—just as conservatives are now seeking to do with birth control—and it has been justified by the argument that those who oppose something shouldn’t have to subsidize it. It’s the same argument being advanced to suggest that employers shouldn’t have to cover contraception in their employee health plans.
The above excerpt was originally published in The Daily Beast.
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