The Price of Preemies
And other news from the techno-frontier.
Outlet: Washington Post, Jan. 4
Gist: From 1995 to 2002, the percentage of sexually active adult women not using contraception rose from 5.2 to 7.4. This could increase unintended pregnancies by more than 20 percent.
Liberal spin: This is the tragic result of insufficient sex education, too much abstinence-only curriculum, more people without insurance coverage, and lower federal funding of family planning relative to inflation. One liberal complains that drug companies "have cut way back" on free samples and tells the Post, "It is absolutely unconscionable that women have a co-pay of $20 or $25 [a month] for contraceptives and men are getting off scot-free."
Critique: 1) If erosion of sex ed is the problem, why is contraceptive use increasing among teenagers? 2) Before you blame health insurers and drug companies, ask how safe, reliable, and expensive birth control was before they got into it. 3) Doesn't "co-pay" mean we're socializing some of the cost, and nobody's getting off scot-free? 4) Have we really been relying on free samples to get birth control to poor women? If so, shouldn't we make that subsidy public and stop leeching off greedy drug companies?
Conservative spin: Women are rejecting birth control because they want to get pregnant or don't like birth control's side effects. An abstinence proponent tells the Post, "The women making these choices are making a conscious choice. They are not stupid."
Critique: We'll quote you on that next time you propose legislation—like, say, S. 2466—to regulate women's choices on the grounds that they're dupes of the abortion industry.
Item: There's no evidence that commercial weight-loss programs work.
Source: Annals of Internal Medicine
Will Saletan covers science, technology, and politics for Slate and says a lot of things that get him in trouble.