What Should Government Pay For?
The Fluke Testimony, Part 4
By John D. Turner
29 Mar 2012

“Without insurance coverage, contraception, as you know, can cost a woman over $3,000 during law school. For a lot of students like me, who are on public interest scholarships, that’s practically an entire summer’s salary. 40% of the female students at Georgetown Law reported to us that they struggle financially as a result of this policy.”- Sandra Fluke, testimony before the Democratic Steering and Policy Committee, 23 Feb 2012.

Ms. Fluke, as demonstrated in her testimony cited above believes that women have a “right” to contraceptive services. So what is a “right?” Definitions abound.

In an article in Free Republic, a right is defined as “the sovereignty to act without the permission of others.” It is “universal in meaning: it applies to [everyone] not just a few.” There is a lot more in the article; it makes for interesting reading.

Judge Andrew Napolitano defines a right as “a gift from God that extends from our humanity.” In this excellent video, Walter E. Williams explains what a right is and how it differs from a “wish.”

Ms. Fluke believes that health care is a right. President Obama certainly believes this as well, as he stated so, when asked directly, in at least one Presidential debate back in 2008. Ms. Fluke, president Obama, and those who represent the left and the progressive movement believe that rights are bestowed by the government; and that anything they deem to be good and proper is or should be a right to be enjoyed by everyone.

These “rights” are flexible; what one group of folks gives, another can take away. That is why they like to describe the Constitution as a “living breathing document;” so that they can change its meaning as they desire without having to go through the formality (as the Constitution itself requires) of amending it. That is so difficult to do, after all, and it might be hard to get a super majority to go along with the changes in meaning they desire.

Constitutional rights differ from “rights” bestowed by government. Such ephemeral “rights” can be snatched back as easily as they were given. Constitutional rights on the other hand protect us from things that the government could otherwise do to us; things governments have been doing to people throughout human history and which we can see various other governments doing to their people in the present day: suppression of free speech, suppression of free press, intimidation, illegal search and seizure, oppression of religion – the list goes on.

There has been a tendency of late to say that if there is a “right” to something, then everyone must be provided with that something regardless of their ability to actually pay for it. To do otherwise is “unfair.” Thus it is that Ms. Fluke thinks that the cost of contraceptive services, a “right”, should be borne by someone else, not her.

Well, I have a right to keep and bear arms. And unlike Ms. Fluke’s right to contraceptive services, which stems from “penumbras” and “emanations” of other constitutional protections (and other rights gleaned from a study of the entrails of small animals by Supreme Court Justices), my right descends directly from a reading of the second amendment to the Constitution:

“A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

While I enjoy going to the range and firing my weapons, I find that the cost of doing so has become particularly burdensome. Indeed, to go and fire as often as I like (in a similar manner to Ms. Fluke and her friends need for birth control) can cost me thousands of dollars over a period of time similar to that which she referenced.

I remember the first time I went to the store to obtain rounds for my handgun. There I was standing at the checkout counter. I felt so embarrassed and powerless when I learned for the first time that I had to actually purchase the rounds to fire my constitutionally protected firearm, and had to walk away because I couldn’t afford them. I had no choice but to “shell out” or go without.

Just last week, a friend told me that he actually had to sell his gun because he could no longer afford to fire it, or even pay the required range fees. People employed in low-wage jobs face the same choice every day.

This is why it is my opinion that since the Government has stated that it is my right to keep and bear arms, and that such is not only my right, but necessary to the security of a free state, that it is in the government’s best interests, nay, it is the government’s duty to provide me with the ammunition necessary to maintain my proficiency on however many weapons I desire at any time I choose. The right, spelled out in the constitution does not limit me in the number or type of weapons I may choose to keep, any more than Ms. Fluke’s “right” limits her to free condoms vice any other type of more expensive birth control she may decide she wants.

Denial of free ammo by the government impacts real people. In the worst case, a woman who needs ammunition for her weapon might suffer dire consequences when a burglar (or worse yet, an ex-husband) enters her home and threatens her life.

I realize that there are those on the left who would “solve” this “problem” by eliminating my right to carry entirely. For many on the left, handguns are anathema. And yet the left would claim that the right would “solve” the free birth control “problem” in a like manner, by making birth control illegal. The left contends that firearms, particularly handguns, lead to thousands of unnecessary deaths each year through accidents and violent acts; if we only get rid of them then life will be so much better.

The contraceptives regulation promulgated by the HHS department includes abortifactants, which is one of the reasons it is anathema to religious institutions, and those on the right. Abortion has killed over 50 million children in the United States since it became legal; way more than deaths caused by firearms.

It is bad enough when elected officials buy votes by promising federal dollars for this “worthy cause” or that. It’s good to be Santa Claus, I guess, particularly when it isn’t your money at stake, but rather “the people’s money.” How much worse is it when they can order free goodies willy-nilly from any particular company that strikes their fancy without regard to what that does to the viability of the company in question?

Hey congress! A company isn’t just a bunch of fat cat executives at the top playing golf at a country club in Bermuda. A company is composed of real people with real jobs who lose those jobs and quite possibly their life savings if the company goes out of business.

But that’s ok I guess – you will just give them 99 weeks of free unemployment benefits.

Today it’s free contraceptives. What if tomorrow they decide that all automobiles manufactured in the US should have side door airbags (for safety, right), and that car companies have to include them at no additional cost to consumers? What if they decide that since motorcycle helmets are a vital piece of safety gear, and some folks are too poor to afford them, that all motorcycles sold in the US now have to come with a helmet – at no charge to the customer? What if they decide any number of things regarding private companies, what they sell, and what they should make available for “free?” Who doesn’t want “free” stuff?

Do I really think that the Federal government should buy my rounds? Well, it’s a nice pipe dream, but, no I don’t. Likewise I don’t think that the Federal government should be in the business of providing free contraceptives, or ordering insurance companies to provide free contraceptives, or free anything for that matter.