Bobby Jindal, the Republican Governor of Louisiana, is already positioning himself to appeal to women voters in the 2016 presidential election. And he's started with an unprecedented tactic: being reasonable.
Expected to be a top choice to run in 2016, Jindal broke from the party’s far right, far-gone position on birth control today, writing in a Wall Street Journal op-ed that the pill should be available over the counter. Taking the angle that less regulation and more free market is better, Jindal agreed with the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists’ recent call to provide birth control without a prescription.
"Let's ask the question," he wrote:
"Why do women have to go see a doctor before they buy birth control? There are two answers. First, because big government says they should, even though requiring a doctor visit to get a drug that research shows is safe helps drive up health-care costs. Second, because big pharmaceutical companies benefit from it. They know that prices would be driven down if the companies had to compete in the marketplace once their contraceptives were sold over the counter."
Jindal pointed out how the GOP's conservative position on reproductive rights is in direct conflict with their purported small government ideals. It's always seemed counterintuitive to me for the party to argue for small government in cases of taxes or gun control, and massive government to legislate people's sex lives and wombs.
It's refreshing to see a politician notice that contradiction, and pick a side.
Of course, Jindal still had to give a nod to the religious right that inspires the usual hypocrisy of conservative opposition to reproductive rights. He went out of his way to make the caveat that doctors and pharmacists with a personal objection to birth control shouldn't have to provide it.
That's an issue for another time, but for the moment I'll just be glad to see a Republican taking a pro-birth control stance and potentially starting a more mature political conversation about reproductive rights.