Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) on Monday dismissed criticism of Republicans’ efforts to deny people reproductive health care as being “completely made up” by the “condom police” in an effort to scare voters—glossing over his own attempts to block access to contraception.
At a town hall event in Iowa, Cruz responded to an audience member asking about “making contraception available to women who want to control their own bodies” by rejecting criticism of the Republican Party’s actions on reproductive health, and mocking 2016 Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton by calling her the “condom police.”
“Now listen, I have been a conservative my entire life,” said Cruz, according to a CNN report. “I have never met anybody, any conservative who wants to ban contraceptives.”
Cruz went on to deny that accessing contraceptives was an issue that needed to be addressed, telling the crowd, “Last I checked we don’t have a rubber shortage in America. When I was in college we had a machine in the bathroom, you put 50 cents in and voila! So yes, anyone who wants contraceptives can access them, but it’s an utterly made-up nonsense issue.”
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Commenting that Clinton leaped to discuss “made-up” reproductive health issues to distract from the rest of her platform, Cruz asserted that the Democratic candidate simply falls back on the “war on women” in an effort to “scare” voters into supporting her.
“So what do you do?” Cruz asked. “You go, ‘Ah, ha! Condom police. I’m gonna make up a completely made-up threat and try to scare a bunch of folks into thinking someone’s going to steal their birth control.”
“What nonsense,” Cruz complained.
But Cruz’s claim that Republicans have never attempted to roll back access to reproductive health care and contraception is undermined by the candidate’s own efforts to do just that.
In August, Cruz pledged his support to Georgia Right to Life’s call for “personhood” legislation, which would recognize “a continuum of human life and personhood begins at the moment of fertilization.” During his 2012 Senate run, he also backed a similar measure, the Life at Conception Act, although he did not sign on as a co-sponsor when Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) later introduced the bill.
Such legislation—which redefines fertilized eggs, zygotes, embryos, and fetuses as persons with legal protections—would effectively end legal abortion in the United States. It could also, contrary to Cruz’s claims, ban many common forms of contraception, such as the pill and IUDs.
And Cruz’s support of “personhood” legislation is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to his efforts to deny people reproductive health services. The Texas senator has relentlessly worked to defund Planned Parenthood no matter the cost—even if it means restricting access to care or shutting down the federal government to make it happen.
When asked in July about whether he would champion a budget showdown over pulling funds from Planned Parenthood, Cruz said, “I would support any and all legislative efforts to defund Planned Parenthood.”
Recent analysis conducted by the Guttmacher Institute found that Planned Parenthood plays a crucial and hard-to-replace role in providing contraceptive care for Americans, and for low-income women in particular. According to its report, “36% of the 6.7 million women receiving contraceptive care from safety-net family planning health centers in 2010 were served at Planned Parenthood centers.”
In October, Cruz lauded Texas’ decision to pull Medicaid funding from Planned Parenthood, encouraging other states to do the same. “I’m proud of Texas for leading the way in affirming the sanctity of life, and I thank Gov. Abbott for his principled commitment to protecting the lives of unborn children,” Cruz said in a statement on the state’s move. “I encourage every state to follow Texas’ lead in stopping taxpayer funds from going to Planned Parenthood, and I will continue to lead the fight in the United States Senate to defund Planned Parenthood at the federal level.”
Back in 2013, Cruz led the charge on an effort to exploit the federal budget for political purposes by holding it hostage in attempt to stop or delay the implementation of parts of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), including the law’s mandate that employer-provided insurance plans cover contraception. The presidential candidate also filed a 2014 amicus brief in conjunction with Sens. John Cornyn (R-TX), Mike Lee (R-UT), and David Vitter (R-VA) specifically supporting the challenge to the ACA’s contraception mandate, which the U.S. Supreme Court ultimately ruled against in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby. The landmark decision granted corporations the right to deny their employees access to certain kinds of contraception based on their religious beliefs.
More recently, Cruz spearheaded a March push to upend a local Washington, D.C. law protecting the city’s residents from discrimination based on reproductive health decisions. The Republican contender introduced a measure to stop the city from implementing the Reproductive Health Non-Discrimination Amendment Act of 2014, which banned discrimination based on an employee’s “reproductive health decision making, including a decision to use or access a particular drug, device or medical service.” Cruz’s measure to block it, if it had succeeded, could have made contraception more difficult for many to access.