Republican Senate candidate Gabriel Gomez again ducks question on Blunt Amendment

WELLESLEY—Republican US Senate candidate Gabriel E. Gomez on Thursday again demurred when asked whether he would have supported last year’s Senate bill limiting contraceptive coverage, saying he had already been clear about his position.

“I’m not sure how much more clear I can be,” Gomez told reporters at a press conference while visiting a small business in Wellesley.

Gomez went on to state his position on related issues of abortion and contraception but he again declined to say how he would have voted on the Blunt Amendment.

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“I don’t believe that we should have taxpayer dollars funding abortion,” Gomez said. “I also believe completely, 100 percent, that contraception should be available over the counter. Like I said, Governor [Bobby] Jindal wrote a great op-ed that I completely agree with – contraception should be available over the counter. They should take the politics out of it. And they should take the pharmaceutical companies out of it.”

Gomez was referring to the opinion article that Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal wrote in the Wall Street Journal late last year arguing that birth control be sold without prescriptions to depoliticize the issue of its insurance coverage. Jindal said Republicans had been unfairly characterized by Democrats as opposing birth control.

The Blunt Amendment caused a stir in last year’s Massachusetts’ Senate race and exacerbated claims that Republican politicians were against women’s rights.

The measure would have let an employer opt out of paying for workers’ birth control coverage if he deemed it morally objectionable. Sponsors, including former US Senator Scott Brown of Massachusetts, said it would protect people from being forced by the government to violate their religious beliefs. But opponents said it would conflict with the healthcare bill’s intent, to make sure everyone has health care coverage, and that it could allow employers to arbitrarily deny any kind of coverage based on moral objections.

Marty Walz, chief executive officer of the Planned Parenthood Advocacy Fund of Massachusetts, called Gomez’s statement a distraction.

“It doesn’t have anything to do with the Blunt Amendment,” she said. “Gabriel Gomez is trying to change the subject to avoid answering a question about women’s access to health care through their health insurance.”

Gomez was asked about the Blunt Amendment yesterday because Walz and other reproductive rights advocates had just appeared at his campaign headquarters to deliver him a copy of the Blunt Amendment, in a jab at his earlier comments to the Globe. Gomez said earlier this month that he could not say how he would have voted on the amendment because he had not read it.

Gomez’s Democratic opponent in the Senate race, US Rep. Edward J. Markey, also previously seized on his comments with a critical campaign web video faulting Gomez for failing to pay attention to the issue.

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