If you've never watched the show Jersey Shore, good for you. Yet if you're not a viewer, then you are probably unaware that its petite, 24-year-old star, Nicole Elizabeth "Snooki" Polizzi, is pregnant. The father is believed to be one Jionni LaValle. And if you took that last sentence to mean that it is an out-of-wedlock pregnancy, good for you again.
If you've paid attention to the politics of recent weeks, you know that there can only be one reason why Snooki was unable to avoid pregnancy: She had a health insurance plan that denied her access to contraception.
At one time or another, one could still get access to care not covered by insurance by paying out of pocket for it. Indeed, it was reasonable to assume that if the care wasn't too pricey, one should pay for it out of pocket.
Not anymore. Now, it is axiomatic that if it is not covered by insurance then it is the same as being denied access. Last week the Senate voted down an amendment by Senator Roy Blunt, R-Missouri, that would allow any employer who had an objection to providing contraception through the insurance policy he or she offers his or her employees to opt out of the Obamacare regulation that forces them to offer such coverage.
In response, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, said:
Republicans are trying to deny women access to health care services like contraception…. Republicans' proposal to let any employer deny women access to contraceptives would not create a single job. Under Republicans' proposal, over 170,000 women could lose access to contraception coverage and other health services in Nevada alone.
Since it is now clear that women are denied access to contraception unless they have insurance that covers it, it therefore follows that Snooki must have had deficient health coverage. Too bad for her that the Obamacare mandate hadn't taken affect a few months earlier.
On a more serious note, we have another case of a celebrity glamorizing out-of-wedlock pregnancy. Plenty of research shows that young women who are poor are likely to remain poor if they get pregnant before they are married. Of course, out-of-wedlock pregnancy won't impose much of a financial burden for someone who is as wealthy as Snooki. But for the many poor young women who might be inclined to follow her example, well, it's probably a safe bet they won't be signing multi-million dollar contracts for their own reality shows.
In the early 1990s the rate of out-of-wedlock births began to decline after rising precipitously for about three decades, eventually stabilizing at about one-third of all births by the end of the decade. Unfortunately, in the subsequent decade the rate was on the rise again such that by 2010 nearly 41 percent of all births were out-of-wedlock.
Wouldn't it be great if someday we had loads of celebrities giving interviews about how they decided to wait until they were married before having children? It couldn't hurt.