Is this the most useful campaign swag ever?

An event supporting Sen. Kelly Ayotte’s re-election in New Hampshire featured a sign with big bold letters that read: “FREE CONDOMS.” The campaign was handing out the condoms to highlight Ayotte’s “commitment to making birth control available over the counter,” according to a picture of the sign posted on Twitter by WMUR Political Director and anchor Josh McElveen.

Ayotte is locked in a tight race for the Senate against Gov. Maggie Hassan. A RealClearPolitics polling average shows Ayotte with a slim 1.6 percentage-point lead over Hassan, but a recent WBUR poll showed Hassan up by 2 points.

Last year, Ayotte joined Sen. Cory Gardner to introduce the Allowing Greater Access to Safe and Effective Contraception Act, which would help make birth control available over the counter. The bill, according to its sponsors, would “incentivize manufacturers of routine-use contraceptives to file for a prescription-to-over-the-counter switch by allowing for priority review of the application and waiving the FDA filing fee.”

Opponents of the bill say it would cost women hundreds of dollars since Obamacare removed the co-pay from contraception. The thing is, however, that just because birth control no longer has a co-pay doesn’t mean it’s free.

Premiums have increased significantly under Obamacare and part of that are the extra “freebies” insurers are now required to cover. If birth control were available over the counter, costs might come down as well as premiums, since insurers would no longer be required to cover the cost.

It would also expand access to those who don’t have insurance. Yes, Obamacare imposes a mandate to buy insurance, but people — especially young, healthy people — are opting to pay the penalty rather than purchase expensive insurance. That means women who are at the prime age for using birth control aren’t buying insurance, so the lack of a co-pay means nothing anyway.

Further, over-the-counter birth control would also mean going to the doctor (and missing work) less. That’s a plus for women who are paid by the hour and can’t easily find time to get to the doctor for a prescription or refill.

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Sen. Gardner used the over-the-counter argument in 2014 to diffuse claims that he was engaged in a “war on women” — and it worked. Since then, more Republicans have gotten on board with the idea in order to offer a free-market solution and to show their support of women and contraception.

Ayotte’s free condom gimmick is a good way to continue highlighting this support.

Ashe Schow is a commentary writer for the Washington Examiner.

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