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September 09, 2014 04:31 PM UTC

Politifact, OB/GYNs Skewer Gardner Contraception Plan

  • by: Colorado Pols


As the battle in the Colorado U.S. Senate race has raged over women's access to reproductive health care and contraception, Republican Cory Gardner has tried desperately to get out from under his longstanding support for the Personhood abortion ban initiatives–which, as everyone even remotely literate in Colorado politics should know by now, could have the effect of banning certain forms of so-called "abortifacient" birth control in addition to banning all abortions even in cases of rape or incest. After disavowing his past support for the Personhood measures, Gardner unveiled a new position on birth control–making oral contraceptives available over the counter. This strategy from Gardner served as a response to the charge that as a Personhood supporter he supported banning birth control, and also allowed Gardner to trot out an "alternative" to Obamacare–since one of the major benefits of the Affordable Care Act that Gardner wants to repeal is no-copay coverage for contraceptives.

While pushing his new plan for over-the-counter sales of oral contraceptives, Gardner has made a number of claims, chief of which is that his plan would be "cheaper and easier" for women than Obamacare. Unfortunately for Gardner, the Pulitzer Prize-winning fact-checkers at Politifact took a look at this claim: and yesterday pronounced it "mostly false."

Gardner, who has repeatedly voted to repeal President Barack Obama’s health care law, says he believes a "cheaper and easier" alternative is to allow the pill to be sold over the counter, meaning without a prescription…

We found that even the groups that advocate making the pill available over the counter — like Jessica Arons, president and CEO of the Reproductive Health Technologies Project and Dan Grossman, vice president for research at Ibis Reproductive Health — did not believe it was a cheaper alternative for consumers than requiring insurance companies to cover contraceptives without cost sharing. [Pols emphasis]

…Other birth control methods may be more effective or more preferable for certain patients, but they are also a lot more expensive at the point of purchase, said Alina Salganicoff, vice president and director of Women’s Health Policy at the Kaiser Family Foundation. Like intrauterine devices, which can cost $500 to $1,000 without insurance.

Bottom line, says Politifact:

Gardner’s plan is lacking in concrete details that would allow a thorough evaluation. There’s some evidence that health care costs generally go down when drugs are made available over-the-counter, but those studies did not look specifically look at the pill. There is a lot of uncertainty and experts — from advocates to economists — question whether Gardner’s proposal would be cheaper to most consumers or the health care system compared to the Affordable Care Act. And Gardner’s plan would only address one type of contraceptive, meaning the many people who choose other methods of birth control would see higher costs.

We rate the statement Mostly False.

In addition, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) released a statement today on the election-year proposals by Gardner and a handful of other Republicans to make the pill available over the counter:

Over-the-counter access should not be used as a political tool by candidates or by elected officials. [Pols emphasis]

Regardless of any current or future proposals from lawmakers, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not yet approved oral contraceptives for over-the-counter use, and any future FDA approval for such use would likely cover only a subset of oral contraceptive formulations.

Of course, cost continues to be a major factor in a woman’s consistent use of contraception, and many women simply cannot afford the out-of-pocket costs associated with contraceptives, OTC or not.  That’s why ACOG strongly supports the Affordable Care Act (ACA) provision that mandates insurance coverage of birth control, as well as other preventive services, without cost-sharing for the patient. [Pols emphasis]

Separately, OTC access to oral contraceptives alone will not help to increase use of the most highly effective methods, such as intrauterine devices (IUD). IUDs are more effective than oral contraceptives, and because they can last for as many as ten years, they are also cost-effective. However, their initial out-of-pocket costs – which can near $1,000 – can be prohibitive for women who don’t have comprehensive insurance coverage.

Given the amount of coverage Gardner's "plan" for over-the-counter birth control has received in local press, and how heavily Gardner has relied on over-the-counter oral contraceptives as a foil to attacks on his long record of support for no-exceptions abortion bans, we really hope both Politifact's debunking and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists's rejection of the idea as a workable alternative to Obamacare receive as much attention.


13 thoughts on “Politifact, OB/GYNs Skewer Gardner Contraception Plan

    1. It was far from an insult. It was inappropriate too use in a political context and he apologized. You either don't know the definition of insult or have no idea what he said.

    2. Keep huffing and puffing and trying to fan that dying flame of faux outrage there, Zippy! Maybe some ignorant rube somewhere will actually buy the snake oil you're hustling here. None of us will.

      Oh, and nice deflection attempt away from the irreftutable fact that your boy Con Man Cory is a BALD-FACED LIAR.

  1. The GOP playbook hasn't changed: Restrict access to healthcare insurance, defund Planned Parenthood, put onerous restrictions on women's health clinics to put them out of business, and criminalize most, if not all abortions.

    Basically, the GOP plan is if you are rich enough, you can afford to buy your own birth control, get unlimited access to family planning and terminate a pregnancy if necessary.

    But if you're poor — well, you're just outta luck sister!

  2. Colorado teen birthrate drops 40% with low-cost birth control

    This didn't happen with pills:

    Colorado's teen birth rate dropped 40% between 2009 and 2013, theColorado Department of Public Health and Environment announced this week, in part due to a program that provides long-acting contraception to low-income women.

    Colorado's Family Planning Initiative provided funding for 68 family clinics across the state to offer around 30,000 intrauterine devices and implants to young women at low or no cost. An IUD is a small T-shaped device that is inserted into the uterus by a doctor. They're either wrapped in copper or contain hormones, which kill sperm and make the uterine lining too thin for egg implantation. Because IUDs stay in place for five to 10 years, they're easier to comply with than taking daily birth control pills.


    These options (free under Obamacare) aren't cheap to buy out of pocket, and they're the exact methods opposed by the Hobby Lobbyists.

    Bottom line is, Pills over the counter is lipstick on the pig of the GOP oposition to women's healthcare.


  3. I am a Democrat and a strong Udall supporter, but I think that Udall and the Democratic Party will be making a mistake if they make this election solely about Gardner's abysmal records on reproductive rights and women's rights. I think those are extremely important topics, but I think Coloradans might get the wrong impression about Gardner by watching those videos of him smiling in front of windmills. Udall and his supporters need to be attacking Gardner on a wide range of topics, all of them coalescing into attacks based on his extremism and rank hypocrisy.

    1. +10 Half Glass – women are not single issue voters on "womb" issues, anymore than Latinos are single issue voters on immigration. Yes, these policies are important and affect many lives – but Udall should be talking about the minimum wage and how Gardner (along with most of his GOP caucus)  won't even let it come up for a vote.

      Raising the minimum wage is 80% popular across the political spectrum. Let's get it  done. Or at least make these slimeballs vote it up or down so we can get them on the record saying that they don't think that their working poor constituents deserve a living wage.


    2. I share your concerns about the Udall campaign's media strategy. You'll recall, I'm sure, the recent recall elections that cost Senators Morse and Giron their seats. In those elections the Democatrats waged the most inept media campaign in recent memory. Rather than face the charges of the 2nd Amendmenteers directly and reply factually and calmly, they played up what nice people they are and how they like Colorado. 

      I support the modest gun safety measures passed in the aftermath of Aurora, but to be frank, those Senators didn't fight for their seats and, in my view, ably assisted in their own recalls. 

      I hope the Udall campaign learns from that, but I fear it will not. 

      1. Exactly. Their message was pretty much look over their. Their are lots of other things to like about us. It's what their ops told them to do and, not for the first time, the ops were wrong. 

        The very modest legislation they supported was completely defensible and the vacuum their studiously ignoring it created was quickly filled by uncontested NRA "They want to take all your guns away" lies. People who polled as approving of things that were actually in those bills voted against what the NRA falsely claimed was in them. And the Dems just said don't be a single issue voter instead of standing by their legislation and setting them straight on it. Ignoring it didn't make anyone forget about it for a second.

        1. The NRA and Cory Craven have that much in common . . . "Mostly False" is as close as either dares get to the truth.  I think you've found the perfect employer for the former congressman come next January . . . 

          . . . and, yeah, pointing out Gardner's lies everytime his lips move is pretty much like beating a dead horse.  It isn't gonna' change anything about the pathetic basic condition of either. 

      2. Both Senators Morse and Giron said after the fact that they lost control over their own anti-recall campaign messaging. I don't know what it was like in the Springs, but in Pueblo, twice a week,  we were getting mailers with sad, somber women mad at George Rivera for his signing a personhood petition.

        Democrats "consulted" them to death, and should have broadened the message, should have consulted more than the occasional focus group. Still, it's a bit harsh to accuse the Senators of "ably assisting in their own recalls. " I know that they busted their butts, while still holding down their full time legislative responsibilities during the session.

        It's also not true that gun issues were never addressed. I know for a fact that we used "gun law talking points" directly in voter contact during the first few months of the recall. Then, when big money advocacy groups came in, the word went down to canvassers and phone bankers not to talk about the gun issues. The gun law "cheat sheets" disappeared. Professional hired canvassers were told to talk in generalities, not specifics.  So, yeah, that happened.

        Udall is a very adept politician. He will hopefully have enough sense to go by his own finely honed political gut instincts and not be "consulted" to electoral death.

        1. It's a real risk in any campaign – the so-called experts start calling the shots, and they're often wrong – particularly when it comes to non-Denver-metro races. The "big money advocacy groups" and sometimes the state party make these mistakes on a regular basis – they just get it wrong, adhere to the wrong polls, read the wrong tea leaves, whatever. One of the biggest reasons Dems often get messaging wrong is that they play reactionary defense too much, instead of organizing a carefully designed offense.

    3. Completely agree. I know it's a winning issue for them or their ops wouldn't be pushing it so hard but it's time to branch out. They should take full advantage of the superiority and popularity of Dem economic policy over the failed policies of the right. There is no reason why any Dem should be afraid to go toe to toe with any R on economic issues . Their trickle down theory is a proven failure. Building prosperity from the working classes out and up is a proven winner.  Raising the minimum wage and equal pay in an era when so many women are supporting families are just two examples of policies that will multiply prosperity. There are lots more and plenty of failed Republican economic policies to call out. 

      I think Dems still are afraid of being accused of being aristo decapitating radicals if they say anything about the growing wealth gap being bad for America and the 99% getting nowhere while the top .1% increases their share of the pie almost exponentially. They need to get over it. As you say, polling shows the majority thinks things are out of whack and need to be corrected with exactly the policies that most Dems support and Rs oppose. They just don't know how much they agree with Dems on these things. It's up to Dems to grow a pair and change that.

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