Earlier this week, an Arizona state senate committee backed a “tell your boss why you’re on the pill bill” that would allow employers to demand proof that their employees are not using birth control for contraceptive purposes before their insurance will cover the pills. In an interview on Meet The Press this morning, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) slammed this assault on working women, and even urged his fellow Republicans to finally end their lengthy war on women’s reproductive health:
GREGORY: Are you concerned at all to see the focus, with certain elements of the Republican Party, on social issues? In your own state of Arizona, there’s this contraception bill that even the governor has said would put women in the uncomfortable position where they had to say to their employers why they wanted contraception, and why it should be covered — is that a bad road?
McCAIN: I am confident that that legislation will not reach the governor’s desk and if it did it would be vetoed. . . . It certainly does not reflect, in my view, the majority view of the people of Arizona.
GREGORY: Do you think that there is something of a war on women among Republicans?
McCAIN: I think we have to fix that. I think that there is a perception out there because of how this whole contraception issue played out — ah, we need to get off of that issue, in my view. I think we ought to respect the right of women to make choices in their lives and make that clear, and get back onto what the American people really care about.
McCain’s concern for “the right of women to make choices” is touching, but it is also a very new development. Just this month, McCain backed the Blunt Amendment, a key prong in the GOP war on women that would have allowed employers to veto women’s access to contraception through their health plans.
Nevertheless, McCain’s recent defection from the war on women is both a welcome development and a good political example for his fellow Republicans to follow. More than three-quarters of American agree with McCain’s new view that Republicans should stop forcing contraception into the national political debate.