Campaigning at Bradley University in Peoria, Ill. yesterday, Mitt Romney quickly criticized a student for wanting "free stuff" from the government.
"You're all for like 'yay freedom and all this stuff and yay pursuit of happiness,'" said the college-aged girl. "You know what would make me happy? Free birth control."
Romney had a decent response, which was to say, basically, "If you want free stuff, vote for Obama."
But I have a different response.
You know what would make me happy, College Girl?
Free daycare. My husband and I currently pay $350/week for daycare. (That's actually an amazing deal, considering we have 3 kids in full-time care and one child in before/after school care. That amount also doesn't include the extra money we'll spend this summer when my oldest is on summer break and will require full-time care.)
Let me do the math for you. That's approximately $18,000 per year. It's approximately half of my take-home pay. It's worth it for me to work because the other half of my salary pays for our mortgage and a few other bills, including my student loans. Still, it's a big chunk out of our budget and I would love free daycare so I'd have more disposable income to spend on other things, like clothes and groceries. Maybe I could even buy my kids brand-new clothes at Target or Wal-Mart instead of Goodwill and Saver's. Maybe I could buy cuts of meat that aren't heavily discounted because they're about to expire.
By your logic, since having my daycare paid for would make me truly happy, then I should get it. Are you willing to shell out $18,000 a year so I can be happy, too?
No? I didn't think so. And I have news for you - you can be happy! You already have a free form of birth control at your disposal. It's called abstinence, and it's 100% effective. In the unlikely event that you are married and have a serious reason for postponing pregnancy, you can pay $10 for a thermometer and practice the sympto-thermal method of NFP. (And you know what? I'd be more than happy to pay for your thermometer. I'll even loan you my copy of The Art of Natural Family Planning. Just drop me an e-mail with your address.)
In the unlikely event that you have a medical condition for which contraception might alleviate your symptoms, it's better to get treatment for your actual condition in order to improve your overall health (birth control pills will do nothing, or may even exacerbate, your medical condition; see testimony to that effect here). However, if you do need hormonal therapy for medical reasons, I'm willing to bet your insurance already covers it, just as Sandra Fluke's does.
My husband and I don't expect others to pay for our daycare. We chose to have sex, and we've accepted the responsibility that goes along with that -- which, in this case, means caring for the children that have resulted from our actions. Not only do I not expect you to pay for my daycare, I don't expect you to pay for my fertility monitor and supplies that we intend to use to avoid pregnancy in the immediate future. See, I'm a responsible adult and I pay for my own supplies when I choose to engage in sexual activity. I don't expect my sex life to be subsidized by you, by the government, or by anyone except me and my husband.
I don't expect you to pay for my daycare, so don't expect me (or anyone else!) to pay for your birth control.
Disclaimer: I have no problems supporting programs that offer daycare subsidies to single parents or couples in need. I've been helped by such programs in the past. However, for some parents (single or otherwise), daycare truly is a necessity. This is not the case with birth control. I'm responding more to the thought process that "X makes me happy, so therefore X should be free" as opposed to a specific need for daycare -- which is often a necessity -- and a specific need for contraception, which is never a necessity and seldom a medical need.