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There is no right to free birth control

We’ve been misreading the Declaration of Independence for centuries. Turns out it says people “are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and birth control someone else pays for.”

That’s the impression supporters of AB249 and SB233 left after testifying Monday. Both bills would require that all Nevada insurance companies provide birth control with no co-pays or other point-of-delivery costs. Supporters lavishly praised those mandates.

Many liberals believe in “positive rights,” aka the right to free stuff, like birth control. But that reading necessarily means that government will infringe someone else’s rights. In this case, it’s you and your 80-year-old grandma, and your freedom to buy an insurance policy that doesn’t cover birth control.

Free stuff is expensive. If you praise birth control without co-pays, don’t feign shock at skyrocketing premiums, thanks in part to a laundry list of government-mandated coverages.

These bills also infringe on religious liberty. Currently, if a religious organization objects to covering contraceptives for religious reasons, it can claim an exemption. But no more if AB249 or SB233 passes. That’s especially concerning, because both bills would require insurance companies to cover emergency contraceptives that can induce abortion. Emergency contraceptives can prevent a fertilized egg from attaching to the uterine wall, resulting in the death of an unborn child.

Assemblywoman Teresa Benitez-Thompson, D-Reno, said that while she knows of no religious organizations currently claiming the exemption — although the abortive contraceptive mandate could change that — her ideology demands that it go.

“It comes down to a matter of principle,” Benitez-Thompson said. “I feel compelled to argue that we ought not to have a path by which companies and corporations and nonprofits can walk down to exclude their employees from having contraceptives built into their health care plans.”

Translated: Nuns must provide insurance that covers birth control. No one has the right to follow his or her religious beliefs when it comes to offering health insurance that doesn’t include contraceptive coverage. I must have missed those carve outs in the First Amendment and Nevada’s constitution.

The way forward comes from understanding that most of the rights outlined in the Declaration of Independence and U.S. Constitution are negative rights. You have the right to be free from someone else violating your rights. Your employer doesn’t have to offer an insurance plan that covers birth control, and you don’t have to work there.

Freedom isn’t “free” stuff. It’s letting each of us pursue happiness in ways that don’t infringe on the rights of others.

Victor Joecks’ column appears in the Nevada section each Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Contact him at vjoecks@reviewjournal.com. Follow @victorjoecks on Twitter.

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