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Fact Check: Contraception for Married Couples

Well it didn't take long for the thesis to come up. By way of contrast to what Bob McDonnell wrote in his controversial graduate school thesis in 1989, Creigh Deeds just said that he didn't say, at age 34, that the state should get involved in regulating contraception for married couples.

But neither did McDonnell.

McDonnell did say that the Supreme Court was "radical" and "illogical" when it ruled that the government cannot intrude into married relationships -- and, later, unmarried relationships -- by barring access to contraception.

He also says now that he does not support banning contraception.

Here's a look at McDonnell's legislative record:

As a state lawmaker from Virginia Beach from 1992 to 2006, McDonnell voted for a bill to give pharmacists a "conscience clause" allowing them to not fill prescriptions. He also voted for a bill barring the morning-after pill from public college health clinics and against a bill that would have declared the morning-after pill and anything like it to be contraception.

We're not aware of any legislation to keep contraception away from married couples.

By Amy Gardner  |  September 17, 2009; 11:19 AM ET
Categories:  2009 Governor's Race , 2009 Governor's Race Fact Checker , Amy Gardner  
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Next: Fact Check: Cap-and-Trade


Will you be writing about the question on same-sex couples adopting jointly? I watched the debate and feel both candidates glossed over the issue. The reporter asked how they felt about the law that only allows one partner to adopt, not couples, and how it could cause a child to be separated from his remaining adopted parent if the other one died. Both Deeds (who used his time to jump to another subject) and McDonnell (who did address the question and says he supports current law) came off as uncaring.

Posted by: valandsend | September 17, 2009 4:01 PM | Report abuse

I wish Amy’s fact-checker comments were a bit more factual. He’s a more robust analysis that calls into question her fact-checker assessment:

In Bob McDonnell’s 1989 thesis, he called the 1965 Supreme Court decision to allow married couples to purchase contraceptives without government interference, “one the harshest blows to the American family and traditional morality.”

In 1997, Virginia passed a law requiring insurance companies to include the option of contraceptive coverage when offering coverage for other prescription drugs. The broadly bipartisan effort passed in the Virginia House of Delegates 86 to 12. Then-Delegate Bob McDonnell was among the 12 who sought to deny contraceptive coverage.

In 2002, Bob McDonnell co-sponsored House Bill 563 whereby physicians, pharmacists and nurses could deny providing “any birth control pill” to patients. McDonnell supported a similar bill that was introduced in 2003. Neither became law.

In response to legislative attempts by Bob McDonnell and others to characterize contraception as abortion, Senator Mary Margaret Whipple introduced the Birth Control Protection Act in 2003. The measure stated that Virginia laws restricting abortion do not pertain to FDA-approved contraceptives. It passed in the Senate with broad bi-partisan support before being killed in a House Committee on a 9-9 vote. McDonnell was one of the nine who opposed it.

Had McDonnell voted otherwise, the measure would have passed and almost certainly become law. This is significant because later that year, at the prompting of another anti-contraception legislator, James Madison University ceased providing emergency contraception on campus. The crisis threatened to spread to other public universities until Republican Attorney General Jerry Kilgore issued a four-page opinion stating that Virginia’s abortion laws do not pertain to contraception.

Would Bob McDonnell have issued a similar opinion had these 2003 events occurred while he was Attorney General? One need only look to 2004 when McDonnell voted for House Bill 1414 to prohibit any public college or university from providing emergency contraception.

In 2004, McDonnell also supported House Bill 1403. That measure prohibited minors from accessing emergency contraception unless a parent obtained a written statement from a notary public in advance. The bill further imposed a mandatory waiting period, even for rape or incest victims, a ridiculous provision since emergency contraception is less effective the longer the delay in accessing it.

In my assessment, Bob McDonnell’s voting record as a Virginia legislature is wholly consistent with his earlier writings. Nothing in his voting record indicates that he supports contraception for anyone, married or otherwise.

Posted by: DavidNova | September 18, 2009 9:47 AM | Report abuse

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