Conservatives Are Trying To Muddy The Water On Their Records On Reproductive Health
It’s no secret that conservative leaders think women shouldn’t have the economic freedom to make their own reproductive health care decisions. In voting repeatedly to repeal the Affordable Care Act, they would remove the law’s provision to provide birth control without a co-pay, and go back to the days when being a women was a pre-existing condition. By supporting the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby decision, they approve of the notion that a boss has a role in the health care decisions of his or her employees. And many continue to support a personhood amendment which is not only unconstitutional by prohibiting abortion but would even ban certain methods of birth control.
All that has — surprise! — made them quite unpopular with women. Recently, their latest strategy has revealed itself: try to muddy the waters on their real positions by saying they support providing over-the-counter birth control to women. Here are some examples of conservative Senate candidates offering their support for this policy:
- Colorado Senate Candidate Cory Gardner (R): In a TV ad, Gardner states that he believes “the pill ought to be available over the counter, round the clock, without a prescription — cheaper and easier, for you.”
- North Carolina Senate Candidate Thom Tillis (R): In a debate against Democrat Kay Hagan last night, Tillis said that “over-the-counter oral contraception should be available without a prescription.”
- Minnesota Senate Candidate Mike McFadden (R): McFadden says if he were in the Senate he “would be vocal about it and push the FDA to as quickly as possible move to make over-the-counter contraception available to adults.”
- Virginia Senate Candidate Ed Gillespie (R): “I believe actually we should make contraceptives easier to obtain,” Gillespie said in a debate against Democrat Mark Warner in July.
To be sure, efforts to expand access to birth control including by making some forms available over-the-counter are good. But when it comes to these politicians and other conservatives saying they support it, it is an empty gesture.
In reality, their decision amounts to a tax on women. The simple fact is that if you want to repeal the Affordable Care Act, you want to make birth control more expensive. Thanks to the birth control benefit in the ACA, women saved $483 million over the past year alone. And 48 million women nationwide already benefit from ACA-covered preventative care like contraception. What’s more, birth control is not one size fits all. Many women do not use the pill — the form supported by these candidates to be provided over-the-counter. The most effective types of birth control cannot be provided over-the-counter and would therefore still require insurance coverage.
For many women, high out-of-pocket costs make birth control an economic issue as much as a health one. Whether or not some forms of birth control are made available over-the-counter, women still need the birth control benefit in the ACA that conservatives are committed to taking away. Women deserve the freedom to make their own reproductive health decisions.
BOTTOM LINE: Don’t be fooled by some conservatives who are trying to obscure their position on reproductive health by saying they support over-the-counter contraception. Their records clearly oppose the ability for women to make health care decisions for themselves, and their suggestion amounts to a tax on women that the ACA strives to eliminate.