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Home Issue Index Issue: Affirmative Action

Affirmative Action

Issue Overview: Affirmative action refers to the consideration of race, ethnicity, or gender in hiring or in school admissions. Affirmative action programs are typically enacted with the goal of offering opportunities to groups of people who have historically been the targets of discrimination. Originally intended to achieve equal opportunity for African Americans, these programs have since expanded to include women, Hispanics, and members of other minority groups. View Issue Overview and Video

Pro/Con Articles

SUPPORTERS ARGUE

Affirmative action allows universities and other organizations to maintain diversity, which helps break down racial barriers and better reflects an integrated world. Affirmative action is also necessary to "level the playing field" for minority groups following centuries of discrimination. Ending affirmative action programs would halt some of the advances that minorities have made.

OPPONENTS ARGUE

Affirmative action merely turns the tide of discrimination against nonminorities and worsens race relations in the country. It is unfair and unconstitutional to give people systematic preference based on the color of their skin or their gender. Furthermore, affirmative action actually threatens to hurt minorities, by leaving their academic and professional achievements open to question.

SUPPORTERS ARGUE

Providing birth control coverage will make it easier and more affordable for women to obtain the method of birth control that is most effective and appropriate for them, resulting in fewer unintended pregnancies and abortions. Having fewer unintended pregnancies will save, not cost, U.S. taxpayers money and will have other positive benefits on U.S. society as a whole. Some birth control medications can also be used to treat serious illnesses, so their efficacy goes beyond family planning. Employers with moral or religious objections to birth control should not be exempt from the policy, as exempting them would effectively enable them to make a choice about contraceptive use for their female employees.

OPPONENTS ARGUE

Providing such coverage will not reduce the number of abortions in the United States. Furthermore, women already have access to birth control, and the policy will cost taxpayers money. It also threatens U.S. society, since it could lead to greater sexual permissiveness. Birth control should not be covered as a means of preventive health care, because pregnancy is not a disease but a natural state and thus should not be regarded as an illness to be "prevented." In addition, some types of birth control may work by causing abortions, so religious and other employers objecting to contraceptives and abortion on moral grounds should be exempt from the policy.