Medicine: Subsidizing Birth Control

The British government last week announced that it is making oral contraceptives available at trifling cost under the National Health Service to Britain's women, who number 12,250,000 in the child-bearing (15-49) age bracket. The measure, though duly limited by requiring doctors' prescriptions, seemed a significant step toward massive, government-paid support for curbing a nation's population. Yet much concern in the House of Commons was over the possible but unpredictable cost to the treasury.*

For each prescription, which is expected to cover a month's supply of 20 pills, a woman under NHS will pay a token charge of 2 shillings (28¢). The government...

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