Women to Pick Up the Bill for $1,500 Birth Control Tax?

An opinion piece by Forbes.com writer Tom Worstall argues that women who use hormonal birth control pills should have to pay an additional tax of $1,500 per year.

Worstall’s proposed “women-only” tax, which even he admits “sounds entirely absurd,” would tax every woman who uses hormonal birth control pills $1,500 annually to pay for the cost of cleaning oral contraceptive residuals from public water systems.

[Insert screeching tire sound] Wait, what?

Birth Control News brings you three of the many reasons why Mr. Worstall’s proposal fails:

1. Human Beings are not Plants

Ahem, cough. Women who use them? The last time we checked, humans hadn’t yet developed the asexual reproductive ability of plants. That is, a woman doesn’t need birth control to prevent her from getting pregnant unless a man, and his sperm, are also involved.

Perhaps we should take Worstall all the way back to the birds and the bees. It takes two people – a man and a woman – to make a baby. Other than the small percentage of women who take hormonal birth control pills to remedy health conditions, most women take oral contraceptives to prevent pregnancy between themselves and their partner(s). If the benefits of birth control serve both partners, then why should only women shoulder the costs?

Not to mention, women already bear the physical burdens of oral contraceptives, including unwanted side effects and potentially fatal blood clots. To assign a tax to that adds insult to injury. 

2. Cost of Birth Control Pollution vs. Cost of Unplanned Children

Mr. Worstall states, “It is their [women's] choice to use the pill. However, their choice of method of doing so imposes costs on the rest of us, upon the society at large.”

What are these costs? According to Worstall’s article, the hormones used in birth control pills are flushed out of women’s bodies and into the sewage system, where they cause sex changes in fish, thereby threatening fish populations. This issue has been observed in both the UK and the United States and could be remedied by upgrading the sewage system, at an estimated cost of $46 billion for England and Wales.

Worstall’s argument isn’t simply absurd; it’s preposterous. Women who use birth control save society money by avoiding pregnancy. According to a study by the Office of Population Research, Princeton University, the direct medical costs of unintended pregnancies were $5 billion in 2002. A whopping $19 billion of medical cost savings from the same year can be attributed to the use of contraception.

Just think, those numbers only factor in the medical costs of unplanned pregnancies, leaving out many financial burdens including:

  • Long-term costs supplying public assistance to many parents of unplanned children
  • Cost of placing children in the adoption system
  • Cost of increased crime rate – higher levels of delinquency are observed among children born from unintended pregnancy

Mr. Worstal’s plan would levy an additional tax on women who are saving society money by practicing safe sex, while people who unexpectedly have children receive a tax break. This crosses the line from unfair to outrageous!

3. Timing is Everything

Worstall uses figures compiled by the European Union to argue that women should pay this additional tax. He strives to make it sound as if the issue is solely about money. But in the midst of political attacks on women and women’s health support services such as Planned Parenthood, his diatribe is no more than another thinly veiled threat against the freedom of choice for women.

If you doubt this, consider for a moment the impact it would have if we imposed a tax on everyone who takes medication. Residuals from a host of drugs, including everything from aspirin to psychotropics, pollute our water system, but no one is suggesting we all pay a contamination tax.

Instead of discouraging regular birth control use by making it even more costly for women, we should encourage both birth control use and education so that babies are born to people when they are prepared to care for them.

Mr. Worstall’s proposed tax on women who use birth control pills is in direct opposition to this aim, and we at Birth Control News strongly oppose it. 

What do you think?

What are your thoughts on Tom Worstall’s proposed tax? Do you think taxes should be assessed based on gender and personal habits? Where does race or sexual preference factor in? Do you feel that Worstall is on the right path or completely misled? Leave us your thoughts in the comments below, and don’t forget to share this blog.


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