Planned Parenthood claims it is a neutral advocacy organization focused on advancing the needs of women and safeguarding their interests. On Monday, Planned Parenthood shed this façade when they came out against proposals which would increase access to contraceptives. Why? Some Republicans have come out in favor of them. It is the clearest indication yet that Republican triangulation on an issue central to the “war on women” meme is succeeding beyond Republicans’ wildest expectations.
Recently, a handful of prominent Republican candidates and officeholders have embraced a proposal which would allow select forms of pharmaceutical birth control to be purchased over-the-counter and without a prescription. Planned Parenthood’s reasoning for their opposition is that the public and not the state would have to pay for it.
“These politicians, including Gardner, who voted repeatedly to repeal the new health care law, have consistently voted to take away the birth control benefit,” a Planned Parenthood release published last week. “That is what makes this empty gesture especially insulting to women. Meanwhile, women’s health champions like Mark Udall fought for those benefits.”
Dawn Laguen, the Planned Parenthood Action Fund’s executive vice president, makes it even clearer that the Affordable Care Act and other Democratic priorities are her primary focus and not women’s health care.
“If Cory Gardner and others were serious about expanding access to birth control, they wouldn’t be trying to repeal the no-copay birth control benefit, reduce Title X funding for birth control, or cut women off from Planned Parenthood’s preventive health services. This is simply a cynical political attempt to whitewash his terrible record and agenda for women’s health. The reality is that Cory Gardner’s proposal would actually cost women more by forcing them to pay out of pocket for the birth control that they are getting now at no cost thanks to the ACA.”
“A number of Republican Senate candidates have backed over-the-counter birth control in races this year,” The Washington Examiner’s Kelly Cohen noted, “including Cory Gardner in Colorado, Thom Tillis in North Carolina, Ed Gillespie in Virginia, Mike McFadden in Minnesota. Potential Republican presidential contender Bobby Jindal also backs the idea.”
It is perfectly fine to have a debate over whether the American taxpayer should be forced to subsidize birth control. Make that proposal clear, debate the pluses and minuses, and let the public offer their opinion on the matter at the polls. That is, however, not the debate which we have been forced to endure.
The “war on women,” ignited by the 2012 fight over ACA’s contraception coverage mandate, has been characterized by trite emotional manipulation, cheap talking points, and a competition among lawmakers to see who can pander to women voters the most convincingly.
Republicans who have backed making access to contraception easier have truly reshaped the debate around women’s issues. Their clearest victory to date is Planned Parenthood’s decision to drop the veil and come out as an activist arm of the Democratic Party.
This post has been updated since it’s original publication.