In an effort to entice presumably young female voters, U.S. Senator Kelly Ayotte’s (R-N.H.) campaign offered free condoms to students at the University of New Hampshire Monday, highlighting her support for a contraception bill she introduced in 2015.
According to Sen. Ayotte’s campaign spokeswoman, Liz Johnson, the free condom offer began last week “to highlight Kelly’s legislation”, which incentivizes companies who manufacture contraceptive products to apply with the Food and Drug Administration for over-the-counter sale.
The bill, entitled the “Allowing Greater Access to Safe and Effective Contraception Act”, also cancels an Affordable Care Act provision which limits health savings account funds from being used to purchase drugs that don’t require a prescription.
Locked in a tight reelection race with current New Hampshire Governor Maggie Hassan, Ayotte is under fire from pro-choice advocacy groups for voting to defund Planned Parenthood numerous times after infamous undercover videos were released in 2015 purported to show staff offering to sell fetal tissue.
Instead, Ayotte says she wants to redirect federal dollars to fund local health clinics, which are more prominent in New Hampshire.
Communications director James Owens of advocacy group NARAL Pro-Choice America says that Ayotte’s election-year efforts come up short for those concerned with women’s reproductive rights issues.
“A bowl of free condoms won’t makeup for Sen. Ayotte’s repeated votes to defund Planned Parenthood and end access to no-cost contraception,” he said.
Gov. Hassan’s campaign is supported by pro-choice groups including NARAL and EMILY’s List, important allies in a state where 60 percent of independent and 44 percent of Republican voters favor Planned Parenthood.
Hassan publicly supports federal legislation proposed by Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) that would require health insurers to cover the costs of birth control drugs if approved for over-the-counter sale.
Sen. Murrary’s bill also has the support of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, a nonprofit group comprised female health doctors. ACOG says that birth control costs will increase dramatically for consumers if insurance doesn’t cover that class of drug.
Currently, Ayotte and Hassan are virtually tied in the polls, with RealClear Politics giving the Republican incumbent a slight 1.6 point advantage. However, the latest survey conducted by WBUR/MassINC at the end of September shows Hassan leading by 2 points, 48 to 46 percent.
[Roll Call] [Politico] [Photo courtesy ayotte.senate.gov]