During a town hall meeting in Iowa on Monday, Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz shared his views regarding the women’s reproductive rights debate in response to a question from an audience member about “making contraception more available to women who want to control their bodies.” The presidential hopeful was quick to accuse Hillary Clinton of exaggerating the issue, claiming that the goal was to portray the GOP as the “condom police.” Cruz disagreed with this assertion, and followed with his own anecdotal evidence from his days as a Princeton student. “Last I checked we don’t have a rubber shortage in America,” he said. “When I was in college we had a machine in the bathroom, you put 50 cents in and voila!” What Ted Cruz seems to misunderstand is that his experience is not universal. Access to condoms at one university does not prove accessibility for all, especially given that condoms are not the only form of birth control and legislation pushed by his party has denied women reproductive freedom at every turn.
While it is encouraging that many students enjoy easy access to condoms, the college demographic is not the only one in need of birth control. For millions of others, sources of contraceptives and related information may be limited to their local Planned Parenthood — the focus of countless attacks from the Republican Party. Cruz, who frequently calls for the defunding of these centers, is complicit in the disenfranchisement of women who depend on Planned Parenthood for access to reproductive healthcare or simply education on women’s health matters.
Much like his comments in 2013 that incorrectly described forms of contraception like Plan-B as “abortifacients,” Cruz’s view that being pro-condoms makes him pro-birth control further indicates his limited understanding of the contraceptive options available to women. Condoms as a method of birth control hold males responsible to choose to wear them, while methods like the pill or IUDs, which are significantly more effective than condoms, are a choice that a woman can take into her own hands. By denying women the ability to choose which form of contraception works best for them, Cruz and his fellow Republicans are working to inhibit female agency. So while it is refreshing to see a GOP candidate so openly embracing one form of birth control, this is by no means a rousing show of support for women’s reproductive rights.
The denial of reproductive freedom for women is not the “completely made up threat” that Cruz would like to believe it is. The war on women is frighteningly real, and just because one Republican’s privilege and ignorance blinds him to it doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist, or that he himself hasn’t played an active role in waging it.
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