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Bobby Jindal goes rogue

The Louisiana governor, a self-described pro-life Catholic, argues in a Wall Street Journal op-ed (behind the WSJ paywall) that birth control pills should be available over the counter. Here's a paragraph cited by Austin Ruse at First Things:

As a conservative Republican, I believe that we have been stupid to let Democrats demagogue the contraceptives issue and pretend, during debates about health-care insurance, that Republicans are somehow against birth control.

Jindal argues that this policy would not only help the GOP with women, but it would be a blow against Big Government and against Big Pharma. He also seems to agree, in supporting the recent recommendation for OTC birth control by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, that this policy would reduce pregnancies.The move is part of the Republicans' ongoing, very public post-election soul-searching, of which Jindal has been a big part. And he seems to be prompting others, like Austin Ruse, to ask questions about what were once thought to be settled issues for social conservatives.But will this doom Jindal with those social conservatives who have been critical to electoral success for GOP candidates? He is also beyond the Catholic pale now, at least as far as the bishops go. So no white evangelicals and no Republican Catholics. Is that a winning formula?New York's Margaret Hartmann has more.


Commenting Guidelines

"He is also beyond the Catholic pale now, at least as far as the bishops go."Why? Have the bishops made a statements about selling contraceptives over the counter? Or that Catholic politicians should try and prevent people from buying them? I don't get what you are talking about.

I opined on another thread that OTC bc pills would take a large part of the Obamacare controversy off the table, leaving sterilizations and abortions to be wrangled out. The problem, however, is that there are myriad formulations--mini-pills, estrogen pills, combination estrogen-progesterone pills that have to be taken on a schedule, patches (though perhaps that delivery method would still be via doctor's scrip?).These pills may be taken as contraception, or as HRT, or therapy for conditions like endometriosis or dysmenorrhea, and I'm don't think those are things women should be self-diagnosing.Moreover, teenage girls, my son reports, can't wait for these to become cheap and accessible because of their "enhancement" properties. (Jesus help them.) At the very least one would like to see some age restrictions on these things.Perhaps Catholics who support this measure figure those taking artificial contraception are already bound for perdition in the Next World, so their health in This World is the least of their worries. Jindal and ACOG leaders need to have their heads examined for proposing this.

I see that the GOP is now being more open about throwing social conservatives under the bus. We've gone from simply ignoring problems like abortion to actively embracing the forces that encourage them. At least the Democrats are honest about their disdain for traditional morality...

Following Carlo--indeed, whether or not contraception (over the counter or otherwise,) is good social policy is not a matter merely of Catholic moral teaching on sexuality, but more importantly is a matter of the common good. Catholics in leadership might practice toleration (in its technical sense) of something which they personally oppose, as Augustine tolerated prostitution, and Aquinas argued for toleration of non-Christians (Jews and others,) to practice their religions. Augustine was not pro-prostitution, nor was Aquinas pro-paganism, (and certainly he was not a contemporary religious indifferentist,) by any means. They thought that the prohibition would cause worse harms to society than toleration. Toleration is a prudential decision, and people of good will may disagree.If Jindal says "hey, contraception! Good idea!!" then he's in tension with magisterial teaching, though in synch with the vast majority of Catholics in this country. Also, note that most evangelicals do NOT oppose contraception. Many actively endorse greater access to contraceptives to reduce the number of abortions. In the "be careful what you wish for" category, I can't help but see this as the logical outcome of rightwing efforts to make contraception harder to come by in opposing the contraceptive mandate. If this initiative gains momentum, contraception will be more easily available than ever before. But I wonder: is it, in fact, better to have hormonal birth control available OTC instead of having that face-to-face conversation with a medical care provider that might include a more realistic discussion of risks for some women (smokers, etc., or people on certain types of medication)? I yield to the expertise of medial care providers here, or are they simply reacting to the same political reality that threatened access to the pill at all to so many women? Better OTC than not at all? It's a sad day when a religious precept ignored by the vast majority of members of that religion drives health care policy.

This should push away Republican and any Catholic. Just because people-Catholic or not-refuse to follow Holy Mother Church's teachings, does not mean we should not speak the Truth. (As a Catholic and a parent, I can say this knowing the difficulties with not using birth control and or abusing natural family planning.)

Traditional morality isn't always morality. It's more about power, control and imposing your beliefs on everyone else.Good riddance, sez I. Especially for the party that wants the gummint out of their lives.

Jindal is more interested in positioning himself for 2016 than he is in kowtowing to the Catholic ecclesiastical buzz-cause of the moment.

Unless OTC is free, it's in the economic self-interest of women who take birth control to stick with the contraception mandate of fully subsidized prescription-only birth control.(FWIW, I take some prescription meds - not birth control :-) - for which a class of lower-dose OTC counterparts exist. It's cheaper for me to purchase the by-prescription version, for which I pay only an inexpensive co-pay, than to pay full-price for the OTC versions).

" the same political reality that threatened access to the pill at all to so many women? "Repealing the contraception mandate - an outcome for which I still fervently hope - would not "threaten access to the pill". It would restore the status quo ante. Access to the pill would not be any different than it was previously.

Kenneth Whitehead is not pleased with the "contraceptive imperative":

Jindal is, in the main, correct. Requiring women to get a prescription (which is billed to either the insurance company or the government) drives up the cost of that product. If the "pill" is basically safe (or as safe as other OTC) medication such as antihistamines which also carry risks, then it should be able to be purchased as an over the counter product. Big-pharma is also a big problem although this action may not help that except to the extent that opening up to OTC competition might drive down costs associated with it.I can tell you that up here in Ontario, health care costs are projected to be 70% of the provincial budget in the next 30 years. Clearly, that is not sustainable. It will be the same thing in the USA as well. You need only look at the demographics of an aging population and do the the math.I doubt this would save a lot of costs one way or the other but it is a smart, symbolic move.I don't see the compelling Catholic argument against it. Condoms are currently sold in stores over the counter and I do not see any large scale effort against that. Nor do I see large scale efforts against no fault divorce laws, pornography, gambling, the easy availability of hard liquor, etc, etc.I favour a more libertarian approach to these matters combined with strong Catholic education on the importance of individual virtue, character development and making informed, ethical choices that are informed by values that we do our best to live out ever day.

"I dont see the compelling Catholic argument against it."It certainly seems to solve whatever cooperation-with-evil problems are posed by the contraception mandate.

Politically I think the most interesting part of Jindal's statement is that he explicitly used the derogatory phrase "big pharma". Republicans (old ones, anyway) do not permit such criticism of major segments of the, economy. I suspect that the young Turks see the handwriting on the wall, and are willing to ditch the old guys and some of their old loyalties. It must be extremely frustrating being a young Republican politician. The future is for the mavericks. And look out, Democrats, we ain't too happy with you guys either.

Those of the male persuasion making comments here are looking at every aspect of this issue EXCEPT women's health. Catholics have long criticized many of ACOG's rulings in the paste (like the recommendation that pregnant women over 35 or 40 get amniocentisis or CVS testing). So I find it astounding that Catholics are embracing this recommendation, especially since NFP proponents have long used scare tactics about the pill and other artificial contraception to get more couples to use NFP. How quick Catholic men are to throw those things out on the market and let women be harmed or damned for using them if it solves a political expedient or reduces the cost of their health insurance premiums. Apparently just as quick as Catholic men are to abrogate their responsibility for their wives using artificial contraception as long as it means they get to have sex whenever they want.

@ JimAs my husband would tell Kenneth Whitehead: when you start financially supporting my children, you can tell me how many to have.

The reality is that birth control products are not completely safe. Simply read the physicians desks reference or look at the myriad lawsuits involving these hormone based steroids being used to minimize the probability of pregnancy. The American association of cancer researchers, the most prestigious organization in my field considers this a carcinogen. S if its OTC, that is a political view, I understand, although wouldn't support, but then again cigarettes are readily available too. I think our willingness to compromise the health of so many women so we can have casual sex with the is not good. We should reconsider the motivation behind these decisions and perhaps address them. Maybe we can have healthier women and show them a bit more respect than just those things we have sex with, now go away and don't get yourself pregnant.

For those who wish to learn more about the Church's teaching on contraception, an excellent commentary and further resource links can be found here:

I strongly suspect that the regular posters here have more than a passing familiarity with "the church's teaching on contraception."I have done a lot of geneaological research on 4 strains of my family within the past 4 years and have discovered a long line of female ancestors who gave birth to anywhere from 8 to 15 children, and then died at a relatively young age. Of course, most of their husbands instantly found another wife to care for the children already in existence and, in some cases, have a few more to boot.I think that having access to contraceptives in the late 1800s and early 1900s might have assisted many if not most of these women in living longer, happier lives.

"He added that this arrangement would ensure that anyone who has a religious objection to contraception would not be forced by government health-care edicts to purchase it for others."David G. --I wonder if the bishops noticed that he supports their religious right not to buy contraceptives for others. They get precious little support about that issue. Few people really understand that issue, I think.


About the Author

David Gibson is a national reporter for Religion News Service and author of The Coming Catholic Church (HarperOne) and The Rule of Benedict (HarperOne). He blogs at dotCommonweal.