Drake: Contraceptive decisions are individual rights

The country has been whirling with proposed legislation cutting access to contraceptives, particularly the free resources provided by Planned Parenthood and even prescribed pills covered by health care providers.

Many conservatives feel this is less an issue of contraceptives and more one of religious and moral freedom protected by the Constitution. If they really want to go with that argument, they need to consider how such acts are impinging on individual citizens’ rights that are supposed to be protected by that same Constitution.

Conservatives are continuing their fight against Planned Parenthood and similar organizations that support women’s health care and sexual education. With a family background of conservative Roman Catholic values, I can certainly understand the sentiments expressed that providing free contraceptives and sexually transmitted disease screenings seem to condone the sometimes unsafe practice of premarital sex – but I personally feel this point is completely misplaced.

For one matter, providing education on sexual health in the first place will promote safe practices and spread awareness of the dangers that can be involved with sex. Politicians and parents alike may not approve of the younger generation’s comparatively liberal views of sex but they can’t deny that these views exist. If they do and simply force a close-minded, abstinence-only solution, then not only are they in denial about how the real world operates, they also are putting their daughters, sons, nieces and nephews in danger of contracting health risks that could have been easily prevented with sexual education.

Withholding resources from the entire United States population is forcing one group’s values on a nation of very diverse backgrounds and beliefs. Fighting for what one believes in to provide the moral stability many citizens desire is certainly an admirable task, but doing so to the disadvantage of millions more people who want the complete opposite tips the balance in individual rights.

The very preamble of our Constitution forwards its purpose to “promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity.” Limiting access to health care is the furthest thing I can think from providing for our country’s welfare.

Thousands, if not millions, of people across the U.S. depend on health care coverage and amenities offered by groups like Planned Parenthood in order to care for themselves. Depriving them of these resources is depriving them of the welfare our Constitution promises to uphold, as well as the freedom of all men and women to choose how they live their own lives.

If this is truly a case of moral and religious rights, then perhaps we should all consider our moral and religious right to do well by our fellow man. The politicians we vote into office are supposed to fight for our rights, not their own views on how they think we should live our lives. It is not their place to decide what is best for us; it is their responsibility to represent us and the whole of this nation.