December 17, 2012 — Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal's (R) proposal that the GOP support nonprescription oral conceptive sales has spurred a wide range of reactions from abortion-rights groups, The Hill's "Healthwatch" reports (Viebeck, "Healthwatch," The Hill, 12/14).
Jindal is the head of the Republican Governors Association and is thought to be a potential presidential candidate in 2016 (Robillard, Politico, 12/14).
On Friday, Jindal expressed his support for the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists' recommendation that oral contraceptives be sold without a prescription in a Wall Street Journal opinion piece. He said the GOP has "been stupid to let the Democrats demagogue the contraceptives issue." Nonprescription access to oral contraception -- at least for adults -- would "take contraception out of the political arena," he wrote. He added that women "should be free to" buy contraceptives without government interference and that employers should not be "forced by government health-care edicts to purchase [contraception] for others" (Women's Health Policy Report, 12/14).
Jindal's support has drawn praise from some prominent abortion-rights advocates, including Planned Parenthood Action Fund President Cecile Richards. "We welcome Governor Jindal's thoughtful contributions to the conversation on women's health," Richards stated, adding, "We hope that Governor Jindal will help keep policymakers at the state and federal level out of women's personal health care decisions" (McGaughy, New Orleans Times-Picayune, 12/14). Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast also expressed support, agreeing with Jindal that "access to birth control should not be a political issue" (Wilson, Fox 8, 12/14).
However, NARAL Pro-Choice America said Jindal's op-ed was "another case of trying to convince that public that anti-choice politicians are really not as extreme as their voting records suggest," "Healthwatch" reports. NARAL President Nancy Keenan said, "Jindal's own record on contraception directly contradicts his claim of support. ... While in Congress, Gov. Jindal voted against every progressive pro-choice position. He voted to remove contraception from a list of health services that poor women overseas should get." She also noted Jindal's co-sponsorship of the Right to Life Act (HR 618), which could have "banned most common forms of contraception" ("Healthwatch," The Hill, 12/14).
In addition, groups opposing abortion rights have criticized Jindal's proposal. Sarah Comiskey McDonald, a spokesperson for the Archdiocese of New Orleans, said that the Catholic Church "disagree[s] with the governor's opinion because, as the Catholic Church teaches, contraception is always wrong" (New Orleans Times-Picayune, 12/14).