Would anyone out there have predicted that former Gov. Bobby Jindal and U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-New York, might find common ground?
And even if they did, who would have guessed that the onetime darling of the political right and the quickly rising star of the congressional left might share the same view on an issue related to reproductive rights and health?
Yet count Ocasio-Cortez among the latest politicians to embrace an idea that Jindal, then still a presidential wanna-be, first pitched back in late 2012.
Following an election cycle in which Democrats successfully leveraged many Republicans’ resistance to the free birth control mandate in then-President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act, Jindal wrote in The Wall Street Journal that the pill should be made available without a prescription — an idea that Ocasio-Cortez also endorsed in a recent tweet.
Back then, Jindal’s argument was largely a political one.
"As a conservative Republican, I believe we have been stupid to let the Democrats demagogue the contraceptives issue and pretend, during debates about health care insurance, that Republicans are somehow against birth control," he wrote. Jindal wrote that his beef was not with the idea of birth control pills but with "government health care edicts" that would force "anyone who has a religious objection to contraception" to purchase it for others.
But he had an interesting potential ally to cite — the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, which had come out with an opinion favoring the same idea, based on the argument that difficulty in access to birth control was a public health threat.
There are lots of nuances to the debate, many of which I explored in a 2013 story on the issue for Gambit, and not much has happened since. A few of Jindal’s fellow Republicans, though, have also embraced the idea, most recently U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, who responded to Ocasio-Cortez’s tweet by offering to work together.
One immediate sticking point between the two is surely to be financial. Under the ACA, birth control is available to patients at no out-of-pocket cost, and Democrats are unlikely to trade one form of easier access for another. Ocasio-Cortez pretty much said so when she issued a second tweet 20 minutes after the one that got Cruz’s attention.
“It should be free, too — like in the UK!” she wrote.