Rep. Steve King Worries Free Birth Control Will Make Us A "Dying Civilization"

August 02, 2011 3:08 pm ET — Kate Conway

Ardent social conservative Rep. Steve King (R-IA) has long been worried about the sexual mores of the American populace. "Planned Parenthood," he once declared while arguing that the organization should be defunded, "is invested in promiscuity." "Social moderation," he once wrote, "has certainly contributed to the $14 trillion in national debt."

But now, King sees even more drastic consequences in the sexual behavior of his fellow Americans. Speaking on the House floor last night, King worried that Health and Human Services' decision to require new health insurance plans to cover birth control with no co-pays would literally make America "a dying civilization."

KING: We have people that are single, we have people that are past reproductive age, we have priests that are celibate. All of them, paying insurance premiums that cover contraceptives so that somebody else doesn't have to pay the full fare of that? And they've called it preventative medicine. Preventative medicine. Well if you applied that preventative medicine universally what you end up with is you've prevented a generation. Preventing babies from being born is not medicine.  That's not— that's not constructive to our culture and our civilization. If we let our birth rate get down below replacement rate we're a dying civilization.


Predicting the end of civilization is hyperbolic, but King's position on contraceptives is also incoherent. Expanding the affordability of family planning is good policy, especially for someone who would presumably like to see fewer abortions. There are three million unintended pregnancies in the U.S. each year, 20 percent of which end in abortion, and a disproportionate number of which happen to poor women (who, by the way, are more likely to rely on public funding for pre- and post-natal medical care). But, according King's logic, all those accidental pregnancies are actually the desired outcome.

Completing his argument against health insurance that includes birth control coverage, King solemnly mused, "Now none of us would have health to worry about if they prevented us, would we, Mr. Speaker? That is just— It is bizarre. It is Orwellian. It's not even counter-intuitive."