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Steve Massey: Free birth control encourages irresponsibility

Would you be in favor of giving away your cash if it helped lower the number of thefts in your community?

Most of us would answer no.

We don’t want our hard-earned money going to someone who would otherwise steal to get it. When it comes to eliminating immoral behavior, the end does not always justify the means.

Hang onto that last part for just a moment.

Here’s the latest argument in favor of giving away high-cost contraceptives: A study published this week shows that women given high-cost contraceptives experienced fewer pregnancies. Fewer unwanted pregnancies led to fewer abortions.

Therefore, it is argued, free birth control should be provided in order to reduce the abortion rate, among other things.

It’s a classic case of insisting that the end justifies the means. And it’s wrong.

Mandating that insurers provide free birth control allows people to be morally irresponsible without facing consequences. And it takes money from the pockets of those who choose to live more responsibly.

The findings of the study by Washington University in St. Louis come as millions of U.S. women are beginning to get access to contraception without co-pays under President Barack Obama’s health care law. The law requires that Food and Drug Administration-approved contraceptives be available – for free – for women enrolled in most workplace insurance plans.

Many religious organizations oppose the health care law because of this birth control provision. It requires even religious-affiliated colleges or hospitals to provide the coverage for their workers.

The problem of unwanted pregnancies in America is a grave one. Consider the evidence: It’s estimated that half of the 6 million-plus pregnancies each year are unintended, and nearly half of those pregnancies end in abortion.

But those sobering statistics ought to point us to something bigger: there is a moral crisis in America, not merely a public health crisis. Just as natural laws cannot be violated without consequence, neither can moral laws.

The no-cost-birth-control provision of Obama’s Affordable Care Act encourages a mindset of unrestraint. And it contributes to the sense of sexual entitlement that is a primary cause of abortion, sexually transmitted diseases, and the erosion of the family.

I’d much rather see our government encourage the only sure-fire method of reducing unwanted pregnancies and abortions: abstinence. Reserving sex for marriage is part of God’s plan. Abstinence prevents unwanted pregnancies 100 percent of the time.

Promoting abstinence also helps our culture by strengthening families. Research suggests that people who remain abstinent before marriage have a better chance of remaining faithful in their marriage.

Strong marriages produce strong families, and strong families are the foundation of our society. We’re ignoring this to our peril.

Christians have a role to play in all of this. We can be those who live within the boundaries God has given us for sex. We can be those who support the hard work of helping women with unwanted pregnancies choose life for their babies, not abortion. Each unborn child is a precious gift from God, not a problem to be solved through abortion.

Christians also can stand against the very idea that our government should make it easier for people to make irresponsible choices.

No-cost birth control may at first glance seem like the solution to public health problems. But a more thoughtful look reveals the obvious: The end does not always justify the means.

Steve Massey is pastor of Hayden Bible Church (www.haydenbible.org). He can be reached at (208) 772-2511 or steve@haydenbible.org.