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Republicans Won on Women’s Health and Need to be Held Accountable

As we take a breath in the wake of these 2014 elections, there were some glimmers of hope as we saw a turnout (albeit modest) of voters who “support women’s reproductive health, want to support candidates who do as well, and will vote on the issue”, says Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research.

The cloud that is the Republican-held Senate may have a silver lining in supposed increases in reproductive healthcare access, but Ilyse Hogue, President of NARAL Pro-Choice America warns of Republicans politicking their way into power. “What we saw this year was many anti-choice Republicans realizing this and running away from—and in many cases, flat out lying about—their own record when it came to both choice and access to birth control. Voters are not stupid. All candidates moving forward should heed these lessons, and the American people deserve representation from both parties who genuinely reflect the desire of voters to protect reproductive rights”. So let’s look at those Republican Senators who used pro-choice and reproductive health messaging during their election campaigns, and we need to make sure they stick to their word.

1. Cory Gardner (Colorado)
He championed for personhood, even going so far as circulating the petition at his church. He also co-sponsored the Life at Conception Act, but NOW he has come out in support for contraception and backtracked on his support on personhood.

2. Thom Tillis (North Carolina)
He supported state efforts that blocked Planned Parenthood from receiving funding from the state for its screenings and other health services. But NOW he has joined the OTC Republican bandwagon and claims: “First, I believe contraception should be available — and probably more broadly than it is today. I think over-the-counter oral contraception should be available without a prescription. If you do those kinds of things, you will actually increase the access and reduce the barriers for having more options for women for contraception.”

3. Joni Ernst (Iowa)
She co-sponsored a so-called “personhood” amendment, she sponsored two amendments to prohibit state funding for abortion, and she voted to defund Planned Parenthood.

But NOW, Ernst said in a debate: “I always stand with our women on affordable access to contraception.”

What’s the catch?

Well, they could have genuinely changed their beliefs and devoted to staunch support of women’s right to affordable and accessible reproductive health care. Or there is this other policy-related alternative, which may make more sense.

“Under the healthcare law, contraceptives are to be available without co-pay. If the medication becomes available over the counter, most will not be covered by health insurance, meaning that drugs that have become more affordable would suddenly be less so”, says the LA Times.

The Washington Post also picked up on this sly irregularity: “Let’s be clear that making birth control pills available over the counter would be a good thing — but only if insurance continued to pay for it. The cost of the pill can be as much as $600 a year, which is out of reach for many women. And we know that insurance companies seldom reimburse customers for OTC medications. The price of the medication might come down over time if it was sold over the counter, but in the meantime millions of women are dependent on their insurance plans to be able to afford it.”

OK, so as long as insurance companies continue to pay for it, then we’re all good. Republicans haven’t had any opposition to healthcare reforms mandating universal insurance coverage. Oh wait.

“By opposing the ACA, all these GOP candidates are putting themselves on record in opposition to requiring insurance companies to pay for any birth control in policies women themselves have bought. And that’s not to mention other forms of contraception, like IUDs, that require a doctor’s care and come with a significant up-front cost.”

This has definitely contributed to why “Pro-Choice Groups Declare a Sort of 2014 Victory”. Yes, there have been some movement towards the promotion of women’s health, but the leaders who purported to ensure this happening need to be held accountable to their words if we have any chance of achieving reproductive health rights for women and the freedom for women to have control over their own bodies.

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