North Carolina Speaker Thom Tillis (R) is embracing expanded access to birth control, looking to flip the script on Sen. Kay HaganKay Ruthven Hagan Embattled senators fill coffers ahead of 2020 NC state senator meets with DSCC as Dems eye challenge to Tillis GOP, Dems locked in fight over North Carolina fraud probe MORE's (D-N.C.) "war on women" attacks against him.


Tillis announced during a Wednesday night debate with Hagan that he wants to legalize over-the-counter access to birth control, making him the fourth GOP Senate candidate to do so.

"I actually agree with the American Medical Association — we should make contraception more widely available," he said when asked about the Supreme Court's Hobby Lobby decision. "I think over-the-counter oral contraception should be available without a prescription. If you do those kinds of things it will actually increase the access and reduce the barriers for having more options for women for contraception."

Tillis then pivoted to an attack on Hagan, saying that "with her support from the pharmaceutical industry [she] may have a variety of reasons not to take it from behind the counter and put it on the counter."

Hagan fired back, broadening her answer to attacking Tillis on equal pay legislation and hitting him for the legislature's defunding of Planned Parenthood, but didn't say whether she also agreed with making the pill available without a prescription. 

"When women's best interests are on the line, I will never back down," she said. "I really think he's out of touch with women and doesn't understand their needs."

Hagan has been hitting hard on women's issues, seeking to drive a wedge between Tillis and female voters in their hard-fought race.

Tillis is the latest Republican Senate candidate, following Rep. Cory GardnerCory Scott GardnerOn The Money: Cain withdraws from Fed consideration | Says he didn't want 'pay cut' | Trump sues to block subpoena for financial records | Dems plot next move in Trump tax-return battle McConnell pledges to be 'Grim Reaper' for progressive policies Cain withdraws from Fed consideration MORE (R-Colo.), Minnesota businessman Mike McFadden (R) and Virginia candidate Ed Gillespie (R) to call for allowing over-the-counter birth control access. Democrats have looked to leverage the Supreme Court's Hobby Lobby ruling on birth control an election-year issue, but other Republicans could embrace the newfound position between now and Election Day, as they look to diffuse Democratic attacks on women's issues.