Ted Cruz has a message for sexually active voters (or aspiring ones): Republicans aren't "the condom police."
The Texas senator made that assertion at a town hall in Iowa Tuesday in response to a question about women's contraception access. Cruz told the audience the assertion that Republicans are anti-contraception is "made-up... nonsense" manufactured by Democrats.
"Partial-birth abortion with taxpayer funding, with no notification for parents in any circumstances — 91 percent of Americans say that's nuts," Cruz said. "Now listen," Cruz went on. "I have been a conservative my entire life. I have never met anybody, any conservative who wants to ban contraceptives."
In fact, half of Americans, and most U.S. women, are pro-choice. What's more, Cruz has both introduced and consistently supported legislation that would make it more difficult for women to access birth control.
On multiple occasions at the Value Voters Summit last year, Cruz, who opposes abortion under any circumstance except when it endangers the woman's life, inaccurately called a form of contraception, "abortion-inducing drugs" and "abortifacients." This summer, Cruz pledged to support a constitutional amendment that would effectively ban several forms of birth control to protect "the civil rights of the pre-born at an embryonic or fetal level."
When he was running for the Senate in 2012, Cruz said he would support legislation that allowed insurance companies to deny women birth control coverage "at their discretion." He also opposed requiring religious groups' insurance plans to cover birth control, and he called the Supreme Court's 2014 Hobby Lobby decision a "landmark victory for religious liberty."
In Congress, Cruz has led the crusade to defund Planned Parenthood, and introduced a resolution to halt a D.C. law that would prevent women from being fired for their choices to use birth control, have a baby or have an abortion.
Since seeking the Republican nomination, Cruz has said that one of his first orders of business, once elected, would be to open a Department of Justice investigation into Planned Parenthood and bring criminal charges against the non-profit, which provides birth control.
None of that, though, amounts to per se opposition of birth control, according to Cruz. "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!" he said Tuesday, reportedly to uncomfortable laughter. "So yes, anyone who wants contraceptives can access them."