- The Washington Times - Friday, September 12, 2014

The campaign arm of Planned Parenthood launched ads Friday targeting Republican Senate challengers’ embrace of over-the-counter contraception, arguing the tactic is a thinly veiled scheme to ding Obamacare and make women pay more for birth control.

The 30-second spots aimed at Rep. Cory Gardner of Colorado and state House Speaker Thom Tillis of North Carolina feature a woman sifting through an array of household bills.

“And just when insurance is finally covering the cost of prescription birth control, Cory Gardner says, ‘No, women should pay the 600 dollars a year,’ ” the Colorado version says, citing estimates of out-of-pocket costs that women could pay if insurance did not cover over-counter contraception.

The ad buys cost $500,000 in the Raleigh, N.C., market and $400,000 in the Denver market, according to Politico.

Mr. Gardner, who is trying unseat Democratic Sen. Mark Udall, has pitched his plan as a common-sense way to widen access to birth control. He recently put out a campaign ad that says costs of the services will go down under his plan and keep government out of health care decisions.

Mr. Udall, Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan of North Carolina and Planned Parenthood Action Fund have noted the plan does little good if insurers decide to no longer cover the services.

The Tillis campaign says that problem can be fixed.

“Thom supports making contraceptives available over the counter, and Congress can easily make oral contraceptives required coverage for insurance companies,” Tillis spokeswoman Meghan Burris said. “Kay Hagan and her special interest allies are inexplicably attempting to make this a partisan political issue.”

The issue burst into view in mid-summer, when the Supreme Court ruled closely held corporations do not have to insure forms of birth control they object to on moral grounds as part of company health plans, even though Obamacare’s “contraception mandate” requires them to.

Democrats are using the 5-4 decision driven by five conservative-leaning justices as part of their talking points on the “war on women” and economic inequality ahead of the midterm elections.

Republicans have pushed back with the over-the-counter idea to demonstrate they are not opposed to women accessing birth control.

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