What is John McCain’s problem with birth control?

Over the past couple days, a new issue has emerged in the 2008 presidential race. It emerged from the McCain campaign itself: McCain has a problem with birth control — and that issue is becoming a major political liability for him. He looks very old-fashioned, very out-of-touch and very uncaring about women.

This all started when top McCain adviser Carly Fiorina opened this real can of worms earlier this week when she raised the issue of the disparate treatment from insurance companies for Viagra, used by men, and most birth control used by women:

Carly Fiorina, the former Hewlett-Packard chief who is now the Republican National Committee’s “Victory Chairman,” was discussing consumer-driven health insurance at a breakfast with reporters when she proposed “a real, live example which I’ve been hearing a lot about from women: There are many health insurance plans that will cover Viagra but won’t cover birth-control medication. Those women would like a choice.” For effect, the woman frequently mentioned as a possible McCain running mate repeated: “Those women would like a choice.”

Yes, those women would like a choice. Fiorina clearly doesn’t know McCain’s record because McCain voted against giving them that choice. In 2003, McCain voted against a bill “To improve the availability of contraceptives for women.” Ms. Fiorina seems equally unaware that birth control is actually a controversial issue for the base of the Republican Party.

Which is why as Jed astutely noted yesterday, it isn’t Viagra that freaks out McCain, it’s birth control:

…it’s not that McCain didn’t want to talk about Viagra. It’s that he didn’t want to talk about birth control. And it’s not that McCain isn’t familiar with either the pill or Viagra — it’s that for McCain, birth control is a politically touchy subject.

Believe it or not, many wingers think birth control should be made illegal. Case in point: Mike Huckabee. And McCain doesn’t want to run afoul of them.

Jed’s right. It isn’t just Huckabee. Missouri Republicans launched a war on birth control back in 2006. With that in mind, watch the video:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k1NweA9662g]

McCain is so uncomfortable — and claims he doesn’t know his own record. He needs to kowtow to his theocratic base. But, in the real world, this issue is resonating — I hear that recent polls have shown McCain’s support from independent women tanks because of this issue.

One more thing that this election is about: preserving access to safe and effective birth control. That’s really something out of the 50s and 60s.


On October 27, 2010, Joe was one of five bloggers who interviewed President Obama. Joe is a DC-based political consultant with over twenty-five years of experience at both the state and federal level. Joe has managed political operations and legislative efforts for both candidates and issues-based organizations. For seven years, he was the Director of State Legislation at Handgun Control, Inc. He served as that organization's first Political Director during the 2000 cycle. Joe is a graduate of the University of Maine School of Law. In addition, he has a Masters in Public Administration from Lehigh University and received his B.A. from the University of New Hampshire. Joe also has a fun dog, Petey, a worthy successor to Boomer, who got Joe through eight years of Bush and Cheney. Joe likes to think he is a world class athlete having finished the 2005 Chicago Marathon in the time of 4:10. He has completed six other marathons as well -- and is still determined to break the four hour mark.

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