Republican senatorial candidates have been emphasizing their support for over-the-counter birth control to counter claims that their party holds outmoded ideas about women and sex, The Washington Post reported
Birth control pills currently require a doctor's prescription as mandated by the Food and Drug Administration. A year's course, if paid out-of-pocket, would cost about $600, the Post reported.
"I believe the pill ought to be available over the counter, around the clock, without a prescription," said Rep. Cory Gardner who is running in Colorado against Democratic incumbent Sen. Mark Udall.
Polls show the state's voters are less likely to back a candidate who opposes contraception or abortion, according to the Post.
Ed Gillespie in Virginia, running against Democratic Sen. Mark Warner, and Mike McFadden in Minnesota, taking on Sen. Al Franken, have made comparable statements.
"If anything, it probably defangs this increasingly concerted effort by the political left to caricature male Republican politicians as anti-woman, anti-birth control, anti-rainbows and sunshine," said GOP pollster Kellyanne Conway, the Post reported.
Some Republicans view the morning-after pill— approved by the FDA for over-the-counter sale without age restrictions— as a form of abortion. They also oppose the intrauterine device because it can be considered abortion-inducing. The IUD could be outlawed in states that confer "personhood" on fetuses, the Post reported.
Planned Parenthood accused Republicans of seeking to "muddy the waters around their unpopular positions on women's health," dismissing their support for non-prescription birth control pills an "empty gesture," according to the Post.
Republicans have long sought to counter assertions that they are insensitive to women. In 2012, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal
endorsed the over-the-counter pill idea in a
Wall Street Journal op-ed.
"I believe that we have been stupid to let the Democrats demagogue the contraceptives issue and pretend . . . that Republicans are somehow against birth control," he wrote. "Thanks to President Obama and the pro-choice lobby, women can buy the morning-after pill over the counter without a prescription, but women cannot buy oral contraceptives over the counter unless they have a prescription."
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