The Charlotte Observer published a blistering editorial hitting House Speaker Thom Tillis, the Republican nominee for U.S. Senate in North Carolina, for recently announcing his support for over-the-counter birth control.
Tillis made the announcement during a debate against Sen. Kay Hagan (D-NC) on Wednesday. The move is “quite a turnaround” for the North Carolina Republican candidate for U.S. Senate, the editorial said.
“In the past, Tillis has been less than friendly towards N.C. women’s reproductive rights. He led efforts in the N.C. legislature to block funding for Planned Parenthood, which provides contraceptives as well as other health services,” the editorial, published on Sunday, said. “And he pushed through an unwise bill mandating that doctors show ultrasound images and describe the fetus in detail to women seeking abortions; a federal judge struck down the provision this year.”
“He also supports so-called -personhood amendments’ that grant legal protections to fertilized human eggs, which the American College of Obstetrician and Gynecologists says could ban some forms of birth control,” the editorial continued.
Tillis is one of a number of Republican Senate candidates who have recently come out in favor of easier access to over-the-counter birth control. In Louisiana, longshot Republican Senate candidate Rob Maness announced his support and used that to bash Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) and Rep. Bill Cassidy (R-LA), the two other candidates in the primary. Rep. Cory Gardner (R-CO), who is running against Sen. Mark Udall (D-CO) also released an ad touting his support for over-the-counter birth control. And in Minnesota, Sen. Al Franken’s (D) opponent Mike McFadden came out in favor of the policy.
The editorial noted that the sudden vocal support among Republicans for over-the-counter birth control “has the pungent odor of politicking.”
Tillis, in an interview with Politico, pushed back on the idea that his announcement was a politically motivated move to attract women voters.
“I don’t know why it’s a surprise,” Tillis said. “I’ve never been in a situtation, unlike what Sen. Hagan said —I’ve never been against— at some point I think she suggested I would ban contraception. That’s absurd. I would never do that. The question I think then had more to do with taxpayer funding.”
Tillis said one of his primary motivations for picking a stance on contraception had to do with cost.
“Everyone knows that my key drivers to moving health care policies is improving access and reducing costs and improving outcomes. This position on contraception actually fits all three of those categories.
The TPM Polltracker average finds Hagan with a 1.1 point advantage over Tillis.