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Reality Check: New Ad Focuses On McCain's Stance On Birth Control

Published On: Jul 24 2008 08:37:19 AM CDT   Updated On: Jul 24 2008 09:57:16 AM CDT

Some surprising topics taking center stage in this year's presidential election are birth control and Viagra.

VIDEO: Watch The Report

There is a Planned Parenthood ad featuring Republican presidential candidate Sen. John McCain.

McCain stumbles through an answer about health care coverage. A new ad highlights his answer and the issues of Viagra and birth control use.

They're drugs that can be incredibly personal to both men and women, but now Viagra and birth control have become a presidential campaign issue.

"Ever use birth control? Then you'll want to hear this," said the ad. "It's unfair health insurance companies cover Viagra but not birth control."

This statement is misleading; in fact, the evidence is to the contrary, a WISC-TV analysis found.

According to a study by the Guttmacher Institute, a reproductive health issue group, WISC-TV found that 86 percent of employer-purchased health care plans cover contraception and, as of this year, 27 states require companies to cover birth control.

As for erectile dysfunction meds, a representative for the Guttmacher Institute said no studies have been done to see who covers Viagra or the like. According to America's Health Insurance Plans, a group representing 1,300 companies, most plans cover contraceptives and there's more variety when it comes to Viagra, WISC-TV found.

But to get to the heart of things, one should really see McCain's whole interview, and as with most things these days, it can be found on YouTube.

The ad continues: "Do you have an opinion on that?" a reporter asks. After a long pause, McCain says, "I don't know enough about it to give you an informed answer."

This needs clarification, according to a WISC-TV analysis. McCain was being asked by a reporter about the comments of a health adviser on his campaign and how that did or didn't jive with his votes on the issue.

"I don't recall the vote," McCain said. "I've cast thousands of votes in the Senate, but I will respond to you."

McCain did vote against requiring insurance companies to cover birth control twice and continues to say he doesn't support insurance mandates, saying they make health care more expensive . A WISC-TV analysis found he ducked the question here.

What's highlighted here is not only McCain's struggle with the question but an internal question in the campaign -- and that's whether to agree with the need for mandated coverage for birth control, appealing to moderates, or to disagree, appealing to the Republican base.

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