Why Should You Pay For Someone Else to Have Sex?

At least that’s the way that Bill O’Reilly phrased it the other day.  His argument goes: 1) group insurance means that we are all paying for other people’s benefits; 2) this benefit is only accessed if someone gets sick or has some other health condition; 3) that means that some members of the group pay for other members’ benefits at certain time; 4) contraception is only useful because someone is having sex; and thus 5) some group members will pay for other group members’ benefits only because those other members insist on having sex.

Now, there are a whole lot of gaping holes in this theory (most importantly that contraception is only useful in terms of preventing pregnancy), but the basic thrust (so to speak) is clear, and deserves to be answered.  So:

1)  There is nothing wrong with people having sex.  Really.  It’s not something that is problematic.  If you have religious or moral objections to it, then don’t have sex.  For everyone else over the age of 18, it is legal as long as it is consensual.  Full stop.  End of story.  (Or actually, there’s more: consensual adult sex is also a constitutional right.).

Objection: But if you are having sex and are trying not to have children, then it is recreational, right?  Why should I pay for your recreation?

2)  Answer: well, what of it?  What if someone goes skiing, and breaks their leg?  Insurance would cover that.  That also means to some extent that insurance is paying for their recreational activity.  Big deal.  If someone hurts themselves sailing, the same thing applies. (And although I have no statistics to show this, I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that skiing and sailing are tilted more toward the high end of the income ladder).

Objection: So then you just think that everyone should subsidize everyone’s else’s activities?

3)  Yes!  That’s what group insurance is.  We recognize that people have lives, where they do a lot of things, and fortunately, we do not do all of those things out of sheer desperation to maintain ourselves.  We drive cars, we take airplanes, we operate heavy machinery, we eat food, we engage in all sorts of recreational activities, and — and I realize that this is going to be a shock to Bill O’Reilly (or maybe not) — we have sex.  We have insurance to spread the risks of these activities: when someone else gets hurt, I and everyone pays a little, so that later on, if I get hurt, I and everyone else pays a little.  It’s better for everyone that way.  So to the extent that O’Reilly, or anyone else, really has an objection to this, then their actual position is that if someone gets hurt, or something bad happens to them, then too bad, and the devil take the hindmost.  This is known as Social Darwinism, and those who believe in it can vote Republican.  The rest of us should vote for President Obama.

 

 

 

 

Author: Jonathan Zasloff

Jonathan Zasloff teaches Torts, Land Use, Environmental Law, Comparative Urban Planning Law, Legal History, and Public Policy Clinic - Land Use, the Environment and Local Government. He grew up and still lives in the San Fernando Valley, about which he remains immensely proud (to the mystification of his friends and colleagues). After graduating from Yale Law School, and while clerking for a federal appeals court judge in Boston, he decided to return to Los Angeles shortly after the January 1994 Northridge earthquake, reasoning that he would gladly risk tremors in order to avoid the average New England wind chill temperature of negative 55 degrees. Professor Zasloff has a keen interest in world politics; he holds a PhD in the history of American foreign policy from Harvard and an M.Phil. in International Relations from Cambridge University. Much of his recent work concerns the influence of lawyers and legalism in US external relations, and has published articles on these subjects in the New York University Law Review and the Yale Law Journal. More generally, his recent interests focus on the response of public institutions to social problems, and the role of ideology in framing policy responses. Professor Zasloff has long been active in state and local politics and policy. He recently co-authored an article discussing the relationship of Proposition 13 (California's landmark tax limitation initiative) and school finance reform, and served for several years as a senior policy advisor to the Speaker of California Assembly. His practice background reflects these interests: for two years, he represented welfare recipients attempting to obtain child care benefits and microbusinesses in low income areas. He then practiced for two more years at one of Los Angeles' leading public interest environmental and land use firms, challenging poorly planned development and working to expand the network of the city's urban park system. He currently serves as a member of the boards of the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy (a state agency charged with purchasing and protecting open space), the Los Angeles Center for Law and Justice (the leading legal service firm for low-income clients in east Los Angeles), and Friends of Israel's Environment. Professor Zasloff's other major activity consists in explaining the Triangle Offense to his very patient wife, Kathy.

34 thoughts on “Why Should You Pay For Someone Else to Have Sex?”

  1. Presumably people like O’Reilly don’t have a moral problem with paying for services related to child birth. Isn’t that also “paying for people to have sex”? Especially since it’s coming from a bunch of abstinence education obsessed nut jobs. Not that I expect any sort of intellectual consistency from these idiots.

    1. AFAIK, they also don’t have a problem with insurance paying for Viagara or vasectomies. So they seem to have a problem with women having sex, but not men. I’m not sure I want to look too closely into how they resolve that.

  2. The point about sking and sailboating. We do not and should pay for the equipment associated with those activities. If we pay for contraception,we might as well pay the clothes, purfume,tanning booth,and body waxing. As far as voting for Obama,anybody that has or would vote for him has not got a clue about what this nations needs, or just does not care and want free stuff. I understand that.

    1. Absolutely. Because all those other pieces of equipment are usually prescribed by doctors and found in drug stores. But thanks for playing.

    2. Michael, this objection has been rebutted many times. This comment is, in my opinion, one of the best examples. Do you have a response to that, or is this as far as you can take your argument?

      1. IMHO, when somebody’s argument is no better than a copy and paste slogan, they don’t have a better argument.

  3. If you go skiing, and break your leg, your insurance may cover the broken leg. But it doesn’t cover your bindings. It will pay for your injuries if you fall off the roof, but not for your ladder. If you go sky diving, life insurance may pay off if you hit the ground without a chute opening, but it doesn’t pay for your chute.

    Why? Because it’s “insurance” to pay off if risks eventuate. It’s something else to pay for things to keep the risk from eventuating.

    Now, in some circumstances, (Think free fixes for windshield chips.) paying for the prevention is so cost effective, the insurance company goes ahead and does it. But generally not.

    It’s not that we don’t understand insurance. It’s that we understand you want to turn it into something else, (An off budget welfare program which private companies are compelled by regulation to implement.) and to that end are going to insist that it’s already that something else. But it isn’t, not yet.

    1. Paying for, and sometimes even insisting on, prevention is also part of insurance. Insurance companies do this all the time, not rarely. You can try to redefine the word as you like, but that doesn’t make you right, nor is it anything other than a silly semantic argument over what is or is not “insurance.”

      I can equally define “insurance” as “accepting and managing risks for a fee.” My condo policy required me to install steel water lines to my washer. My health insurer gives me a partial reimbursement for a gym membership. More significantly, it also pays for a variety of preventive measures, like inoculations. Many medications are taken for preventive reasons. Think of statins, for example. Taking Crestor is not the eventuation of a risk, it’s the reduction of one.

      1. Someone on this thread pointed out that this is really all about SEX. And it’s women having SEX fer cripes sake. Just get’s those conservatives’ panties all in a sweaty bunch thinkin’ about SEX.
        Hey guys:
        *Healtcare is taking care of controling normal as well as abnormal bodily functions.
        *Sex is a normal bodily function that most everyone engages in. *Oral contraceptives are controled drugs that reqire a prescription to purchase. They are part of controling normal bodily functions.
        *Contraceptives are therefore part of normal healthcare.

        Hey did ya hear the economy is recovering from eight years of Republican mismanagement?
        GOP: ‘Hey look over there! SEX!’

        1. It’s not even that. It’s about women controlling their fertility (within marriage and without). As we’ve found out in the last few weeks, many women would lose their fertility entirely without oral contraception, while others would have had children at inconvenient times, interrupting their schooling or ending their employment. Women who can control their fertility gain economic and social power thereby and THAT is what these goons fear the most!

          1. PLUS their CHILDREN have a chance at a better life, competing with these right-wing-nutjobs’ precious little rugrats and there’s nothing these folks hate more than a fair playing field. If the game ain’t rigged, they don’t want to play.

    2. I’m still trying to understand why Brett prefers to pay the higher premiums for his employer-provided group insurance plan that are guaranteed to result from unplanned pregnancies that *will* happen if the incentives to *not* use birth control are increased.

      But I think he understands this. He’s an engineer, after all. So it’s something else. What ever could it be.

      1. Social conservatives are fully aware that birth control and abortion reduce social costs. They just don’t care.

        1. I’m sure he just thinks his employer should fire any woman who gets preggers. As for the husbands of pregnant wives, well that could be him someday, theoretically, should a female–not five states away on livechat in his MMORPG–but a real, flesh-and-blood, sitting next to him female deign to talk to him for more than sixty awkward seconds and perhaps decide to get to know him better, so, you know, that’s just the price you have to pay to keep a good employee. Employers need to recognize and reward top talent (read: privileged white males). But slutty ladiez with their slutty ladypartz need to realize that WORK IS SIRIOUS BIDNESS and stop bothering him with their ladytroubles.

    3. what insurance covers and fails to cover is a horrid mess in the US.

      Hearing aids not covered, unless it’s cochlear implants.
      Infected abscesses are covered, unless it’s under a tooth. Then it’s dental, sorry.

      But your analogy comparing ladders to birth control pills is just wrong. ladders do not require a prescription, not treat a bodily condition.

    4. Brett, this objection has been rebutted many times on this forum. This comment is, in my opinion, one of the best examples. Do you have a response to that, or is this as far as you can take your argument?

    5. I guess you have never bought an accident insurance policy or anything like that, Brett, because you would know that preventative measures are either paid for or discounted by insurers (smoking is a great example). I also know for a fact that you can’t get an AFLAC accident insurance policy if you state that you engage in mountain climbing as a hobby. How about that. I guess you’d have to get a special mountain climber’s insurance policy. Since health insurance works best when we put everyone in the same pool, preventative care IS the only rational option.

      It must come as a shock to you, Brett, that car insurers discount for not speeding and for proof that you ride transit to work… that employers pay employees on group health insurance to exercise, take blood pressure meds, etc, that life insurance agents take smoking into account in their pricing, that rental/home insurance co’s assess the state of your house and give discounts for upgrading your roof.

      1. Brett let the mask slip again. This argument is supposed to be about freedom of religion, remember? It’s not supposed to be about contraception.

        I do eagerly await Brett’s campaign against insurance coverage of statins. And you wouldn’t believe the nerve of my doctor, who seems to think it’s part of his job to suggest exercise. What does he thin he’s being paid for?

    6. Is this serious or is this trolling? Insurance doesn’t pay for preventative care like mammograms, x-rays, and physical exams? I think this is a troll.

  4. As a couple of commentators have noted (although not explicitly), there is a legitimate point behind O’Reilly’s crude statement. Most women taking birth control medication are doing so to prevent unwanted pregnancy, not for other health reasons. The question posed by O’Reilly is whether it is appropriate for the Federal Government to mandate that group health insurance programs cover an expense for what is not health-related. Some have argued that covering birth control is ultimately cheaper for the insurance company than paying for the pregnancies that would otherwise result, but I don’t know that there is any data to support this (and, if true, one would expect the private market to make the decision to cover birth control voluntarily).

    There may well be public policy reasons to require this coverage, but the question of whether the government should be interfering to this extent in the private market is a legitimate question to ask.

    By the way, the “conscience” exception amendment proposed by Republicans in Congress is nonsense. Leaving aside the specific religious exception for churches and church-affiliated institutions, which the Administration has already dealt with, I don’t see why an employer’s “conscience” should prevail over that of its employees.

    1. “Some have argued that covering birth control is ultimately cheaper for the insurance company than paying for the pregnancies that would otherwise result, but I don’t know that there is any data to support this (and, if true, one would expect the private market to make the decision to cover birth control voluntarily).”

      Economic incentives always matter to the wingnuts, until it gets in the way of their bigotry. These people have turned into mindless robots. Well, reactionary authoritarian robots, quite a banal, but destructive breed, all through history. And Brett, the supposed libertarian, is riding smack dab in the middle of the pack.

      I’d like to see a law passed that mandates studying George Orwell’s collected works continuously through high school.

      1. Studying Orwell is okay, until you get some maroon “C” student President who thinks 1984 is a manual rather than a dystopian warning.

    2. Most women taking birth control medication are doing so to prevent unwanted pregnancy, not for other health reasons. The question posed by O’Reilly is whether it is appropriate for the Federal Government to mandate that group health insurance programs cover an expense for what is not health-related.

      The whole pregancy-and-childbirth process is health related. Contraception, being used to prevent pregnancy, is inherently health related. Women don’t take BCPs because they like the flavor, they take them because they don’t want to become pregnant!

    3. Preventing unwanted pregnancy is a health-related reason for birth control. Period. (And as others have pointed out, it’s cheaper than the health care costs of an unwanted pregnancy at that.)

      So, “legitimate point”? Not so much.

    4. “Most women taking birth control medication are doing so to prevent unwanted pregnancy, not for other health reasons. The question posed by O’Reilly is whether it is appropriate for the Federal Government to mandate that group health insurance programs cover an expense for what is not health-related.”

      You know what? Fuck you. Seriously, fuck you. Fuck you sideways with a fucking chainsaw, you bigoted misogynist neanderthal fuck.

      Seriously, fuck you.

      1. I’m on your side, but your “argument” is the sort of argument that people engage in when they don’t really have one. You have one. You should use it.

        1. Who said I was making an argument? That was spewing vitriol.

          If I wished to make an argument, I could have, say, pointed out that the silly assed motherfucker that I was quoting went from “not for other health reasons” to “not health related” in the space of one sentence, and apparently either thought that no one would notice, or didn’t care because he’s a bigoted misogynist motherfucker. But I was cranky and didn’t think it was worth “making an argument” to point that out.

          And really, I don’t feel the need to now.

    5. No need to elaborate on the “not health-related” bit, it’s been debunked pretty thoroughly, though I’m still surprised it’s even a matter of contention. Suffice it to say that anyone who has shared a household with women who use contraception should be well aware that it is very much health-related for more than one reason. Maybe DRF can explain why pregnancy can be considered health-related while pregnancy prevention simultaneously cannot.

      Some have argued that covering birth control is ultimately cheaper for the insurance company than paying for the pregnancies that would otherwise result, but I don’t know that there is any data to support this (and, if true, one would expect the private market to make the decision to cover birth control voluntarily)

      While I don’t necessarily disagree with Russell’s rebuttal, it came off sounding a bit like one of Brett’s substance-free jabs at liberals (not that I haven’t been similarly guilty a time or two myself). Let me add that the incentive to cover contraceptives as a way to reduce costs of covering pregnancy are somewhat reduced when not every insurer is doing it. There is a lot of insurance price-shopping going on in private industry. I can’t tell you how many different insurers I’ve been switched to over the last ten or so years, but it’s been at least half that.

      There may well be public policy reasons to require this coverage, but the question of whether the government should be interfering to this extent in the private market is a legitimate question to ask.

      Well said. This the crux of the issue. When I’ve looked for the insurance industry’s response, I’ve found most of the discussion around concern over the “precedent”, not so much the policy itself. Personally, I lean libertarian but I’m not so much an idealist that I can’t see the benefit and legitimacy of the regulations already in place and how this fits in. I’m going along with this one because I think it does much good and very little harm. In this age of ever-rising population and global warming I would think we should all be eager for subsidized contraception, not just here but the world over. Our grandchildren would appreciate that 50 years from now.

  5. How about why should I have to pay for someone else smoking-related, alcohol-related health costs? How about rehab? What about treatment for diet, lack of exercise related high cholesterol or diabetes? Accidents from risky activities? Don’t people understand how insurance works?

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