Fox's Gutfeld Dismisses Struggles Of Women Who Can't Afford Birth Control

Amid a Fox News campaign to portray President Obama as anti-Catholic, The Five's Greg Gutfeld dismissed the struggle faced by millions of women in trying to access contraceptives.

While protesting the Obama administration's new guidelines aimed at improving women's overall health -- that health insurance plans cover contraceptives without a copay -- Gutfeld said:

GUTFELD: This makes no sense to me. There are two elements that kinda drive me crazy here: The decision is supposed to help make birth control affordable to millions. How much more affordable can you make it? It's like 50 bucks a month. I mean, do we -- should we start up like a “buy the pill” campaign? Like “feed the children” where we make sure we all adopt one woman and pay for her pills? Anybody can afford this.

In fact, not everybody can afford birth control pills, which can range from $15 to more than $50 a month. Other methods can be even more cost-prohibitive. According to Nancy Keenan, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, “nearly one in three women finds it difficult to pay for birth control.”

Indeed, a Hart Research survey commissioned by Planned Parenthood found that:

  • One in three women voters (34 percent) report having struggled with the cost of prescription birth control at some point.
  • This figure rises dramatically among specific demographic groups:
  • 55 percent of women 18-34 have struggled with the cost of prescription birth control.
  • 57 percent of young Latina women 18-34 have struggled with the cost of prescription birth control.
  • 54 percent of young African-American women 18-34 have struggled with the cost of prescription birth control.

And as Keenan went on to argue, one of the reasons the United States has such a high rate of unintended pregnancies (49 percent) is because poorer and college-aged women can't afford birth control -- a fact Fox News has conveniently ignored in its rush to accuse Obama of waging a “war against the Catholic Church.” Fox figures have revived the smear that Obama is anti-Catholic or has an anti-religious bias in order to push back against the administration's decision mandating that all health insurance plans, including church-affiliated organizations, cover contraceptives for women at no extra cost.

According to the Guttmacher Institute, half of all pregnancies in America are unintended and unplanned, and of those, nearly half result in abortion:

Analyzing U.S. government data from the National Survey of Family Growth and other sources, Finer and Zolna found that of the 6.7 million pregnancies in 2006, nearly half (49%) were unintended. Although some unintended pregnancies are accepted or even welcomed, more than four in ten (43%) end in abortion. Unintended pregnancy rates are elevated not only among poor and low-income women, but also among women aged 18-24, cohabiting women and minority women. It is important to note, however, that poor women have high unintended pregnancy rates nearly across the board, regardless of their education, race and ethnicity, marital status or age.

In contrast to the high rates among certain groups, some women in the United States are having considerable success timing and spacing their pregnancies. Higher-income women, white women, college graduates and married women have relatively low unintended pregnancy rates (as low as 17 per 1,000 among higher-income white women -- one-third the national rate of 52 per 1,000), suggesting that women who have better access to reproductive health services, have achieved their educational goals or are in relationships that support a desired pregnancy are more likely than other women to achieve planned pregnancies and avoid those they do not want.

Report co-author Lawrence B. Finer rightly noted that “more affluent” women, those who predictably have no problem paying “50 bucks a month,” had a lower rate than “poorer or less educated women” -- whose rates of both abortions and unplanned births are on the rise:

“These data suggest that women who lead stable lives -- women who are older, more affluent and better-educated -- tend to have better reproductive health outcomes, while women whose lives are less stable, such as younger, poorer or less educated women, have higher rates of unplanned pregnancies, unwanted births and abortions. ... They also show that marriage is not, in and of itself, a solution to the problems women have in controlling their fertility: In fact, poor women who are married have unintended pregnancy rates more than twice as high as those of higher-income women who are unmarried or cohabiting.”

Guttmacher further stated that not only do unintended pregnancies create hardships for women and “can impede their ability to reach their full potential,” they also result in a steep price tag to the public to the tune of about $11 billion a year -- “a conservative estimate.” The report added that “the true cost would actually be many times higher if other expenses, such as social supports or ongoing medical care, were considered.”

And there's more:

Nine in 10 women who would have become pregnant in the absence of publicly subsidized family planning would be eligible for a Medicaid-covered birth if they were to become pregnant.

Accordingly, family planning services subsidized through Medicaid, Title X and other federal and state funding streams are not only effective, they are highly cost-effective: Every dollar spent to provide these services not only helps women achieve their own childbearing goals, it also saves taxpayers almost $4 in Medicaid costs. In the absence of the publicly funded family planning services already being provided, the already steep cost of unintended pregnancy would balloon by about 60%, to $18 billion a year.

As a California study demonstrated, providing access to contraceptives free of charge results in a substantial decrease in unintended pregnancies and by extension, abortions:

Two studies provide evidence that when the barrier of cost is removed, a shift toward the most effective contraceptive methods results. In 2002, California's Kaiser Foundation Health Plan changed its policy to eliminate copayments for the most effective contraceptive methods (IUCs, injectables, and implants) so that they were 100% covered for all users. Before this change, users of these methods had to pay up to $300 for 5 years of use. The elimination of copayments, along with training for health care providers in the use of IUCs, contributed to a 137% increase in their use -- and an estimated 1791 pregnancies averted among Kaiser's patient population.

Finally, lost amid all the hyperventilating at Fox is that surveys continue to show wide support -- among Americans and Catholics -- for Obama's plan:

Gutfeld, The Five's resident comedian who's known more for his attacks on progressives, liberals, and women than his laugh lines, continues to show complete disregard for women's issues. He has repeatedly been accused of misogyny and sexism and often seems to revel in commentary that is downright offensive.