Republicans’ New Birth Control Platform

Republican candidates face a political conundrum over birth control, and they’re turning to Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal for the answer.

The party opposes the Affordable Care Act’s requirement that insurers cover birth control without a co-pay, saying it violates the religious freedom of employers who object to certain birth control methods. But candidates don’t want to be seen as standing between voters and access to birth control, a losing political proposition that feeds into Democrats’ “war on women” refrain.

Facing that exact problem, Jindal came up with an answer in 2012: Advocate that birth control be made available over the counter. That policy, its defenders say, would expand access to birth control without forcing people into conflicts of conscience.

In 2014, birth control is again a hot topic after the Supreme Court weakened Obamacare’s birth control mandate as part of the Hobby Lobby decision. And Republican candidates, including Rep. Cory Gardner in Colorado and Thom Tillis in North Carolina, have embraced the strategy amid attacks over their past stances on reproductive-health questions.

“This is really a way of neutralizing the issue, bringing [the campaign] back to real issues,” said GOP strategist Brian Walsh. “Republicans are focused on the economy: jobs, kitchen-table issues that families are dealing with.”