I Wouldn’t Trust Rick Santorum With My Access to Contraception

Author: February 21, 2012 8:00 am

GOP Presidential candidate Rick Santorum (R-13th Century) is a social troglodyte whose obsession with limiting reproductive freedom has led him to be a leader in the conservative effort to stop coverage of birth control as preventive care for which there would be no insurance co-pays, and to make the absolutely ridiculous and offensive claim that pre-natal testing is little more than a liberal plot to increase abortions. In a concession to the political popularity of access to contraception, however, Santorum has also made a recent push to claim that he has no interest in outlawing birth control, telling the Washington Post that “the idea I’m coming after your birth control is absurd.” Predictably, conservative commentators have echoed this claim to assert that Santorum doesn’t pose a threat to access to birth control, with Ross Douthat at the New York Times claiming:

Even the fiercest conservative critics of the White House’s contraception mandate — yes, Rick Santorum included — agree that artificial birth control should be legal and available.


But the only thing absurd here is the suggestion that we should not be concerned about the legality or availability of contraception if, heaven forbid, Santorum were to become President. In fact, there are at least three reasons why supporters of access to contraception should be terrified of a Santorum Presidency:

1. Santorum has made clear that he objects to birth control: In an interview last October, Santorum said the following about birth control:

One of the things that I will talk about that no president has talked about before is I think the dangers of contraception in this country, the sexual liberty idea and many in the Christian faith have said, you know contraception is OK. It’s not OK because it’s a license to do things in a sexual realm that is counter to how things are supposed to be.

Similarly, in 2006, Santorum expressed the following views about contraception:

I don’t think it works. I think it’s harmful to women. I think it’s harmful to our society to have a society that says that sex outside of marriage is something that should be encouraged or tolerated …, particularly among the young and it has I think we’ve seen very, very harmful long-term consequences to the society. Birth control to me enables that and I don’t think it’s a healthy thing for our country.

Certainly a person could have these personal beliefs while still supporting the right to birth control as a matter of government policy. But given how focused Santorum is on restricting reproductive freedoms, that is not a risk I’d be willing to take.

2. Santorum Rejects the Right to Privacy: Santorum’s statements regarding contraception become even more problematic when combined with his opposition to a Constitutional right to privacy. In particular, Santorum has been very vocal in his opposition to the groundbreaking 1965 Supreme Court decision of Griswold v. Connecticut. That decision established the Constitutional right to privacy that protects many of the individual liberties that we take for granted today. It also struck down as unconstitutional a Connecticut law that made the use of contraception illegal. Reversing Griswold, as Santorum would like to see happen, would once again allow states to outlaw the use of birth control.

3. Santorum is Not a True Supporter of Federal Funding for Contraception Services - In attempting to appear reasonable, Santorum has noted that, despite his personal beliefs about contraception, he has in the past voted in favor of funding for Title X, the federal program that supports family planning clinics that provide access to contraception and other preventive services to millions of low-income families. But more recently, Santorum has pledged to end federal funding for contraception. Those Title X programs that Santorum wishes to defund annually provide contraception and other family planning services to millions of low-income women.

The simple fact is that Santorum is a politician who cannot be trusted with any issue relating to family planning or reproductive freedom. Commentators of any stripe should know better than to accept his claims regarding support for contraception at face value.

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