BY: Ellison Barber
My must read of the day is “Changing Tack, GOP Candidates Support Better Access To Birth Control,” in NPR.Read More
My must read of the day is “Changing Tack, GOP Candidates Support Better Access To Birth Control,” in NPR:
A string of Republican candidates for Senate are supporting an issue usually associated with Democrats: increased access to contraception. […]
So what gives? First of all, Republicans are in a deep hole with women voters, and polls show all voters are less likely to support candidates who restrict women’s reproductive rights. Republican strategist Katie Packer Gage says the GOP needed to get out of their defensive crouch.
She says when Republicans saw what happened to Mitt Romney in 2012, “where women’s groups very falsely and very aggressively attacked him claiming that he wanted to do away with birth control,” the party “started to say look we’re going to have to play offense on this message because otherwise we’re going to be totally misdefined by our opponents.”
Calling for an over the counter pill allows Republicans to support access to birth control while also supporting the right of corporations to avoid covering it. Getting the pill at a pharmacy without a prescription leaves insurers and employers out of the picture altogether.
As far as campaign strategies, I’m still not convinced this is a good one. It seems to provide Democrats additional fodder to harp on the “war on women” debate, instead of moving it to issues Republicans want to address.
Republicans often argue that women care, and vote, about more than their reproductive organs. So to latch on to a reproductive concern now makes it feel like an artificial issue and a little hypocritical.
Right now, the issue is largely election advocacy, which has a short shelf life, but over-the-counter (OTC) birth control is a worthwhile discussion.
Anyone who needed allergy medicine a decade ago knows what a pain it was to return to the doctor, periodically, to request the same prescription. It’s also a pain to wait for the pharmacy to fill it, and then pick it up during pharmacy hours (which, I’ve learned in my adulthood, are often not the same as general store hours). That’s why the sniffly summer noses responded with utter delight when Claritin and Zyrtec could be found in the aisles. It was easier to get.
Birth control over-the-counter: also easier to get.
There will always be some who contend it must be absolutely free, or it’s too restricted, but that’s largely an outlier. The same argument was made as allergy medicine moved to the shelf. Those people are right. It wouldn’t be free, but over-the-counter undoubtedly expands availability of the product, and in the case of allergy medicines—most people don’t seem to mind the cost.
Republicans would be wise to try to lead on the issue in Congress. As we saw in July, when three Republican senators introduced legislation asking the FDA “to study the safety of making contraception available over the counter,” some are heading in that direction.
If more Republican lawmakers follow their lead, the issue could not be written off as merely an election strategy. That would change the debate on women’s reproductive rights and it would likely help move the party out of a “defensive crouch.”Read Less