There are certain annual events Utahns have come to expect: (A) Merrill Cook will file and run for something. (B) Water experts will either warn about drought conditions or worry about spring flooding. (C) At least five people per day will call a local sports talk radio station and recommend that Jerry Sloan be fired.
(D) Utah's male-dominated legislature will turn thumbs down on a bill requiring that insurance companies cover birth control in health insurance policies.
It has become a conservative mantra that mandating such coverage is meddling in the affairs of private business. But that cannot be the real reason. Utah government "meddles" in business decisions every single day. It establishes business licenses and zoning laws, tells business owners when and who can sell alcoholic beverages, sets rules on the hours and working conditions for employees of different ages...from sign or banner ordinances to minimum wage standards, government pokes its nose into the affairs of business.
So why is the birth control concept any different? And is it fair to cover Viagra prescriptions for men while ignoring contraception for women?
Frankly, I would think insurance companies would be shouting "hallelujah" whenever a female received a prescription for birth control pills. Contraception, commonly figured at about $2 per month, is a lot less pricey than the cost of an OB/GYN and a hospital delivery room.
And as a Salt Lake Tribune editorial noted last week, it's ironic that religious conservatives oppose the contraceptive bill since about half of all unwanted pregnancies in the U.S. result in abortion.
I don't buy the argument that the Utah Legislature's motive is sex discrimination. Neither do I believe the elected males are bent on keeping Utah women barefoot and pregnant.
But I have to think some of these older gents are a tad bit uncomfortable any time the talk turns to birth control. They know that their daughters are or were "on the pill" and they know that most religious leaders don't equate contraception with an all-day pass to hell. But some of these lawmakers must get a little queasy when talk turns to sex and reproduction -- well, you know, it's embarrassing to bring some things up in polite company.
I personally think it's time to acknowledge contraception as a health issue, not a religious controversy. And if conservatives want guidance from one of their own, they should look to England's Conserva-tive Party leader and former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher who said, "One of the things I've learned in politics is that men are not necessarily a reasoned or reasonable sex."
C'mon gentlemen, the 21st century has arrived.