…Given the severe environmental effects of hormones from the pill ending up in our water supply, one Forbes writer thinks so, based on the costs of upgrading and operating sewage treatment facilities to remove the hormones:
[T]he proposal is that sewage treatment systems should be upgraded to deal with this. …
Look purely at the running costs of such a system, some 10% of the capital cost. That’s £3 billion a year for England and Wales, and in that country there are some 2.5 million women using the pill. That looks a little low to me so just to make the math easier we’ll say 3 million. Or the running costs alone of such a system will be £1,000 ($1,500) a year for each and every women who uses the pill to regulate her fertility.
As for having the pharmaceutical manufacturer foot the bill, Worstall calls it “near insane” to think Big Pharma would countenance such a financial burden on the pill. After all, “given that the pill is free” in the UK, as will be the case soon in the US, the sewage bill would “just [mean] that the taxpayer is going to pay.”
But we already have a cultural climate that dictates who should pay for such measures: the polluter.
BP has to pay to clean up the waters of the Gulf after Macondo: we all think this is just and righteous. … Which brings us to: well, it is women taking the contraceptive pill who are causing this pollution. … This really is pollution and yes, we do have this general assumption that the polluter should pay for having polluted.
We cannot charge BP for killing fishies through pollution if we don’t also charge others who kill fishies through pollution, can we?
Worstall concludes that contraception isn’t bad in itself, but “there are a number of alternative methods, various barriers, creams, sponges, IUDs, which do not carry this environmental cost,” that women should pursue.