GOP Senate candidate Cory Gardner is betting that contraception will get him at least a few votes among Colorado women who’ve bought into the “war on women” meme promoted by the Democratic Party.
Gardner has released an ad in which he calls for contraception to be available to women “over the counter” without a doctor’s prescription, “around the clock,” he says.
Gardner is in the middle of a bruising fight with incumbent Democrat Mark Udall who has been going after Gardner for his past support of what’s called a “personhood” amendment, a divisive proposition that would allow for an unborn child from conception to be considered a person and therefore protected from abortion under state and federal law. “Personhood” has lost resoundingly in Colorado, largely because opponents have convinced Colorado women that it would ban certain kinds of contraceptives. Gardner has backtracked from support of “personhood,” but Udall’s attacks persist.
It appears the new proposal from Gardner on contraception is his attempt to fight back against Udall’s charges that he is bad for women on the bedroom issues. Gardner draws a distinction between himself and Udall since Udall, like most Democrats, insist that women must have a prescription from their doctor to get the contraceptive pill. Gardner says this results in a politicization of the issue, higher costs–therefore more profits for drug companies, and more government control.
A similar tack was taken by Republican Barbara Comstock, who is running for a Congressional seat in Virginia’s 10th congressional district. Comstock wrote a letter to Kathleen Sibelius asking for contraceptives to be available over the counter. In her letter, she said that contraception needs to end as a political issue. This was a direct reference to the Democrats’ “war on women” charge. During her primary campaign, Comstock came under attack from two of her opponents and some Catholic bloggers for this position. Comstock won her primary handily.
It is unclear that making contraception over-the-counter would have any effect on its use in the Unites States. According to the United Nations, at 78%, the United States already has among the highest rates of contraceptive use of any country in the world–lower than China but significantly higher than India.
The same UN figures also show that an over-the-counter policy may have little or no effect on the incidence of contraceptive use. However, making it over-the-counter could take a hot political issue away from the Democrats, which is what Gardner is hoping for.