William F. Buckley, Jr. was the intellectual beacon of American conservative movement. He was both insightful and well-researched.
His magazine is not those things.
In response to the legislative firestorm over efforts to curtail women’s access to contraception, most conservatives have grasped the classic libertarian argument that “access” means “not illegal” as opposed to “something an average person can acquire.” This is a lazy worldview, committed to shutting out complicating factors like affordability and tight job markets that could constrain women from just “finding a different job.”
Charles C.W. Cooke of the National Review gets some credit for at least considering affordability. But then he wasted this argumentative goodwill by embracing the hasty generalizations and disregarding much of the medical and scientific testimony from the past several week, consequently penning the dumbest article this week.
Were one to have listened uncritically to the more hysterical elements in America’s news media over the past month, one would have concluded that contraception is intractably hard to come by in the United States; but a cursory glance at the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene’s well-appointed website gives quite the opposite impression.
That’s right, this entire article is going to be based on the availability of free contraception in NEW YORK CITY! In an absolute shocker one of the top 5 most liberal cities in the country has a public health care policy that includes free contraception. Cooke even makes an aside that New York is a bunch of crazy, liberal tax fiends, but fails to make the connection that this means the majority of the country does not enjoy this access. This is the sole of hasty generalization — because you can get free condoms in New York, there is no access problem anywhere in the country.
He does recognize briefly that your local government may not cover all contraception methods by noting that “organizations such as Planned Parenthood and the Children’s Aid Society ensure that more permanent forms are covered, too,” which is somewhat ironic since conservatives are engaged in an almost never-ending war to close those entities.
Finally, after trying to understand affordability issues, Cooke falls back on the libertarian brass ring of “access.”
it is still possible, even normal, to buy contraceptives in every drugstore in the country. Indeed, so ample and various is the supply that it comes in a startling array of flavors, methods, and combinations. No questions are asked. Nobody is excluded.
So you can just go and buy condoms — those should cure your ovarian cysts ladies! Cooke’s “rubber-centrism” ignores the multiple health benefits of other forms of contraception and, as Wonkette noted, relegates women to a sub-standard form of birth control.
It is astounding that a publication with the pedigree of the National Review was so starved for content that they greenlit an article so riddled with flaws.