(CNN) – The political battle earlier this year over health insurance coverage for contraception wouldn't be repeated if women could buy birth control without a prescription, Louisiana's Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal wrote in an op-ed Friday.
Jindal was advocating a recommendation from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, who took the stance in November that birth control pills should be sold over-the-counter in drugstores. Currently contraception pills require a prescription from a doctor, many of whom are represented by the ACOG.
Jindal made the case Friday in the Wall Street Journal that such a shift in policy would eliminate the political back-and-forth over contraception policy, which divided many Americans in early last year.
"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," Jindal wrote.
The issue originally arose in February, when the White House said it would require hospitals and schools with religious ties to offer full contraception coverage. Many Catholic leaders and other religious groups strongly oppose any requirement for contraception coverage on theological grounds. President Barack Obama later announced a compromise that exempted some religious institutions from offering contraception coverage to their employees.
The episode sparked partisan and ideological rhetoric, including from GOP presidential hopefuls in the middle of a heated primary season. Eventual Republican nominee Mitt Romney encouraged his supporters to sign a petition protesting "the Obama administration's attacks on religious liberty," saying the new rules amounted to an assault on personal rights.
Later, during the general election, Democrats accused Romney of wanting to restrict access to birth control – claims his campaign vehemently said were untrue. The issue was also used to hammer Republicans in down-ballot races.
"Democrats have wrongly accused Republicans of being against birth control and against allowing people to use it. That's hogwash," Jindal wrote in the Wall Street Journal Friday.
He said use of contraception is "a personal matter-the government shouldn't be in the business of banning it or requiring a woman's employer to keep tabs on her use of it."
"If an insurance company or those purchasing insurance want to cover birth control, they should be free to do so. If a consumer wants to buy birth control on her own, she should be free to do so," he wrote.
Jindal, the chairman of the Republican Governors Association, is considered a potential candidate for the 2016 GOP presidential nomination, and has made a push in recent weeks to assert himself as a leader within the party. He delivered an education policy speech Tuesday at the Brookings Institution in Washington, and while he was a Romney surrogate during the campaign, he was one of the first Republicans to distance himself from Romney after the defeated nominee claimed Obama won the election by offering "gifts" to African-Americans, Hispanics and young Americans.
I worry that making birth control over the counter is just another way to make it so that insurance companies don't have to pay for it, since they just about never pay for over the counter medicine. Still, the increased availability would be good, as long as there is some way to make sure that it doesn't actually reduce access for some women by driving up their net cost.
It's an interesting proposal Mr. Jindal makes. It calls the bluff of the Catholic bishops – do they wish to follow their own consciences or simply coerce people into following Catholic doctrine regardless of their personal faith? And especially interesting coming from a conservative Republican who is also Catholic himself. The idea deserves more than the ideological short shrift it's been getting in these comments so far.
Isn't this the same argument with a different spin? Republicans constantly doing the same thing wondering why they are being defeated over and over. The definition of political insanity.
Isn't this the same argument with a different spin? Republicans constantly doing the same thing wondering why they are being defeated over and over. The definition of political insanity!
@MD: You make a good point regarding the potential side-effects of birth control pills. By maintaining funding for local health clinics (such as Planned Parenthood), we can continue to provide affordable access to health professionals who can safely dispense these drugs.
Affordable and accessible – those are the answers.
I think that it's a great idea to have them available over the counter. However is would be quite difficult because they aren't for everyone they have many side affects and many women are at a higher risk for heart issues or blood clots shouldn't be on them. They have to be taken continually. not once in a while or they won't work properly.i've been on them for 8 years and it would be excellent if i didn't have to go to the doctor every 6 months for the annual check up. But my husband and i have chosen not to have children. And they won't let me have my tubes tied as "im too young and i'll change my mind." But i know what i don't want.
Jindal got one thing right. The GOP is stupid. In so many ways.
Why is everyone conveniently ignoring the fact that it's the PHYSICIANS who specialize in things like birth control, i.e. the ACOG, who are recommending this move? If they think physician supervision is necessary, why would they recommend otherwise? I mean, they'll actually be losing money if the women don't have to visit them to get a prescription.
Great idea, Bobby! Perhaps we could do the same with other meds as well and take the control over our healthcare out of the hands of the drug companies and insurers and back in the hands of the patient and their physicians.