Oral arguments began in a Texas court on Tuesday to determine whether the Affordable Care Act can require insurers to provide preventive medication, which includes access to contraception and medicines or tests for sexually transmitted viruses like HIV.
To be frank: The plaintiffs in the lawsuit, filed back in 2020, are offering the dumbest argument imaginable for refusing these medications.
In the complaint, filed on behalf of several conservative Texas residents, the plaintiffs claim employers shouldn’t be forced to provide an HIV prophylactic medication known as PrEP because they say it incentivizes “homosexual behavior, prostitution, sexual promiscuity, and intravenous drug use.”
“It also compels religious employers and religious individuals who purchase health insurance to subsidize these behaviors as a condition of purchasing health insurance,” the lawsuit alleges. And that ridiculous argument could win out, because it’s being heard by a district judge appointed by then-President George W. Bush, who has issued ultraconservative rulings in the past, including judgments against the Affordable Care Act.
But facts matter, and this is an idiotic argument that relies on a lot of conservative bigotry to get within even a mile of a valid point. For one, PrEP isn’t a drug merely for non-heterosexual people. It’s a drug for anyone at risk of contracting HIV. Sex workers and so-called “promiscuous” people obviously aren’t the only ones who can contract HIV. And no, there’s literally no evidence suggesting taking HIV medicine makes you more likely to inject drugs into your veins.
And there’s no evidence access to contraception, which is also on the chopping block in this lawsuit, encourages any of the behaviors the plaintiffs in this case described.
In this case, Republicans are deploying a strategy I wrote about on Monday, which essentially uses restrictions on contraceptives as a way to stigmatize pre-marital sex and other activities conservatives claim to dislike.
But as I said Monday, denying people access to contraceptives or other things that facilitate safe sex doesn’t stop sex completely. It just creates obstacles to safe and enjoyable sex. The lawsuit out of Texas shows the GOP is willing to usher in a lot of suffering just to prevent Americans from getting busy as they please.