August 19, 2014 — Although some Republican candidates have said they support making birth control pills available over the counter, Democrats see such calls as a "ploy" to distract female voters from the GOP's established positions on women's health issues, The Hill reports.
According to The Hill, Republicans strategize that calling for OTC birth control access will diffuse debates about contraceptive coverage and help erode Democrats' traditional advantage among female voters this election cycle.
Republican Senate candidates Ed Gillespie in Virginia and Mike McFadden in Minnesota have both supported the position, The Hill reports. The issue has been especially prominent in Colorado's U.S. Senate race between Rep. Cory Gardner (R) and Sen. Mark Udall (D).
Gardner campaign spokesperson Alex Siciliano said Gardner's proposal to make birth control pills available without a prescription "puts women in control," adding, "Making oral contraception available to adults at every pharmacy, without the trouble of a doctor's visit, would drop the retail price and save money and time and hassle."
However, Udall allies said that Gardner's plan would not necessarily lower costs and is really an attempt to distract from their criticism of Gardner's support for "personhood" proposals.
Udall campaign spokesperson Kristin Lynch said, "Access to contraception and family planning services aren't election-year gimmicks," adding, "They're fundamental rights that we must protect." A Udall campaign official said that Udall would "be open to an over-the-counter option, as long as it improved access for women. However, some OTC proposals, if insurance were removed from the equation, would actually drive up costs for women" (Viebeck, The Hill, 8/18).