Pregnancy as Pathology

    Jennifer Erickson -- a twenty-seven-year-old pharmacist -- fills other peoples' prescriptions for a living. But for a long time, she was angry about one of her own prescriptions. Specifically, she was angry that her health insurance didn't cover birth control pills. So, she went to Planned Parenthood, which dispenses millions of them every year. But what Planned Parenthood gave Erickson wasn't free birth control pills. They gave her a lawyer. Erickson filed a class-action lawsuit against her employer, the Bartell Drug Company. The suit alleged that their failure to cover contraceptive devices -- like the pill -- violated the Pregnancy Discrimination Act. This law requires employers to take the differences between men and women into account and provide both with equal coverage. Her employer argued that contraceptives aren't like other prescription drugs. They're not necessary for health nor are they used to treat illness. Yet despite the clear logic of the argument, District Judge Robert Lasnik sided with Erickson and ruled that since the health plan covers "drugs and devices used by men," there was "a gaping hole in the coverage offered to female employees . . ." Contraceptives, he said, are "a fundamental and immediate health-care need," even though most such plans consider birth control pills a non-covered option. Planned Parenthood, as you might suspect, would be pleased to see this ruling applied nationwide; but Christians should be alarmed. For starters, this ruling puts employers who object to contraception on moral grounds in a terrible bind. They can either violate their conscience or stop providing health care benefits. What's more, the ruling is dishonest -- offering a health justification. Women don't use contraceptives out of fear of disease. As feminists are so fond of saying, contraception is to give women control over their sexuality by preventing pregnancy. Yet this ruling treats contraceptives as the equivalent of beta-blockers or Claritin. That's because this ruling treats pregnancy as a pathology. In his ruling, Judge Lasnik called unintended pregnancies "shockingly common." He cited the "enormous costs and health consequences" for the mother, child, and society from unintended pregnancies. The health consequences cited by the judge are imaginary. What difference does it make, health-wise, whether the pregnancy was planned or not? What we're seeing here is what we've seen right along in the abortion debate. In cases like Roe v. Wade, the interests of the mother were depicted as being in opposition to the interests of her unborn child. Rather than seeing both mother and child as part of larger whole, the child was treated as an invader. And that's how they justified killing the child. The same reasoning is at work now in the Erickson case. And some feminists scholars today even argue publicly that unborn children -- even those who haven't been conceived -- are considered threats to a woman's well-being. Accordingly, women have a right to do whatever it takes to stave off the threat -- as if the child were a parasite. And that reasoning has now led pregnancy to become treated as the equivalent of high-blood pressure. This case isn't only about contraception. It's about how we view childbirth and children. And if the decision stands, the answer will be that we value childbirth about as highly as we do a bad case of sniffles.


Chuck Colson


  • Facebook Icon in Gold
  • Twitter Icon in Gold
  • LinkedIn Icon in Gold

Sign up for the Daily Commentary