Up in New Hampshire, Republican Senator Kelly Ayotte is trying out a novel campaign tactic: Rather than just engage in the usual baby-kissing, Ayotte is handing out free condoms.
Image: Gage Skidmore, Flickr Creative Commons License
It’s all in aid of drawing attention to Ayotte’s pro-contraception stance, as well as her support for selling the birth control pill over the counter—a policy idea that has gained a lot of steam, thanks in large part to the efforts of female legislators across the country.
As I wrote earlier this year, over-the-counter/get-it-from-your-pharmacist legislation was already on the books at the outset of 2016 in Oregon, California, and Washington, D.C., and was being pursued during this year’s state legislative sessions in Tennessee, Missouri, and Washington. Republican women led the charge in the last two states.
But absent federal legislation, or all 50 states acting, women in most places would not benefit from these moves—and would still have to visit the doctor, incur visit and testing fees, then visit the pharmacist, and so on, in order to get the Pill.
Not if Ayotte has it her way. Along with Sen. Cory Gardner, she introduced the Allowing Greater Access to Safe and Effective Contraception Act earlier this year.
According to a press release, that bill "would incentivize manufacturers of routine-use contraceptives to file for a prescription-to-over-the-counter switch by allowing for priority review of the application and waiving the FDA filing fee […] Further, the bill would repeal the Affordable Care Act’s restriction on the use of health, medical, and flexible savings accounts to purchase over-the-counter drugs without a prescription."
The legislation appears aimed at reducing the hassle factor involved in obtaining hormonal contraceptives, which remains despite Obamacare making the Pill free for those carrying qualifying insurance.
As I wrote in April, "For white-collar, professional, salaried women, it’s mostly just annoying having to take time out of a busy day to visit the doctor, and cover or contribute to the attendant costs of the visit and the tests that many doctors require or advise in order to get a pill prescription (even when you’re perfectly healthy). But for those between jobs and poor women, especially those paid low hourly rates who literally lose money when they take time to go to the doctor, it’s more than merely irritating; it’s straight-up unaffordable, in terms of time and/or money. As Dr. Susan Dodd of Knoxville, Tennessee notes, the consequences of this are that 'A lot of women just cross their fingers and hope their condoms are going to work.'"
Ayotte appears to be helping to get women those "hopefully-will-work" condoms, but obviously is angling for something better in the long term. For the next month or so, though, Ayotte will continue giving the condoms out to her constituents.
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