Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R), whose name is often mentioned as a potential 2016 presidential candidate, penned an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal on Thursday that calls for contraception to be made available over-the-counter.
If women could buy birth control without a prescription, he argues, employers would not have to pay for it against their moral objections, and Democrats could no longer accuse Republicans of being anti-birth control.
As a conservative Republican, I believe that we have been stupid to let the Democrats demagogue the contraceptives issue and pretend, during debates about health-care insurance, that Republicans are somehow against birth control. It's a disingenuous political argument they make.
As an unapologetic pro-life Republican, I also believe that every adult (18 years old and over) who wants contraception should be able to purchase it. But anyone who has a religious objection to contraception should not be forced by government health-care edicts to purchase it for others
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recently came to the same conclusion: that birth control is safe enough that it should not require a prescription. However, making contraception available over the counter would require women to pay for it out of pocket, whereas the Affordable Care Act currently requires that it be covered under most insurance plans with no co-pay.
Republicans have made a number of legislative attempts over the past year to allow employers and insurers to refuse to cover birth control if they morally object to it. Republicans have also repeatedly tried to defund Planned Parenthood, which provides low-cost or free birth control to millions of women each year. But Jindal claims in his op-ed that the idea that Republicans are opposed to birth control is "hogwash."
The price of birth control would be driven down if companies had to compete to sell it in the marketplace, and women only visit gynecologists to obtain birth control prescriptions because "big government says they should," he said.
Jindal also points out that the Obama administration "and the pro-choice lobby" has ensured that emergency contraception, or the "morning after pill," can be sold over-the-counter. Doing the same for birth control could put an end to the partisan politics surrounding it.
"Democrats have wrongly accused Republicans of being against birth control and against allowing people to use it," he writes. "That's hogwash. But Republicans do want to protect those who have religious beliefs that are opposed to contraception. The latest opinion from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists is a common-sense call for reform that could yield a result everyone can embrace: the end of birth-control politics."
UPDATE: 1:16 p.m. -- Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Action Fund, responded to Jindal's op-ed in a statement on Friday.
“We completely agree that access to birth control should not be a political issue, and the vast majority of voters from both parties do, too," Richards said.
"We welcome Governor Jindal's thoughtful contributions to the conversation on women's health. Unfortunately, his remarks stand in contrast to some of his colleagues in Congress who have tried repeatedly to eliminate the nation’s family planning program, which helps provide low-income women with access to affordable birth control. These and other legislative attacks on women’s health are all too real, as we’ve seen just this week in Michigan. We hope that Governor Jindal will help keep policymakers at the state and federal level out of women's personal health care decisions.”