Rick Santorum Even Opposes Birth Control

Those concerned with a woman's health and right to choose should be watching the Santorum surge closely.

By SHARE

LAKEWOOD, COLO. – Former Sen. Rick Santorum's survival as a Republican primary candidate ensures two things: one, an endless stream of inappropriate jokes about sex acts and sweater vests. And two, an entirely appropriate conversation about birth control and public policy.

[Check out political cartoons about the 2012 GOP field.]

Rick Santorum is but the most extreme expression of the Republicans' inexorable march to the fringe on women's healthcare and reproductive rights. Even Rep. Ron Paul, who has his share of liberal apologists for his opposition to the PATRIOT Act and for being a supposed civil libertarian, has actively campaigned as being antichoice. You can't be antichoice and be a libertarian. Ron Paul opposes my civil liberties and those of half the U.S. population.

But Santorum's aggressive courting of social conservatives in Iowa to come within a hair's breadth of beating former Gov. Mitt Romney—who outspent him 70-1—has raised the birth control issue to a whole new level.

[Read: Who is Rick Santorum?]

It's not enough to oppose abortion, even to protect the life of the mother or for survivors of rape or incest. Rick Santorum and all his fellow supporters of "life begins at conception" even oppose the most commonly used forms of birth control. This includes the top choice, the pill, since birth control can work by preventing implantation of a fertilized egg. Santorum opposes contraception in general, telling the blog caffeinatedthoughts.com in October, "It's not okay. It's a license to do things in a sexual realm that is counter to how things are supposed to be."

Santorum also opposes the predecessor to Roe v. Wade, Griswold v. Connecticut, which established a constitutional right to privacy in 1965. Griswold negated a Connecticut state law banning the use of contraception by married couples. The day before the Iowa caucuses, Santorum told ABC's Jake Tapper, "It is not a constitutional right, the state has the right to pass whatever statues they have."

[See a collection of political cartoons on healthcare.]

Perhaps realizing this could be a problem, Santorum has already contradicted himself, telling CNN's John King on January 4 that he would not have supported the Connecticut anticontraception law because, "The government doesn't have a role to play in everything that, you know, that either people of faith or no faith think are wrong or immoral." This will undoubtedly come as news to the gay community and anyone who served in the Senate with Rick Santorum.

Following on the heels of Griswold, in 1967 Colorado became the first state to liberalize its abortion restrictions—a law signed in front of TV cameras by a Republican governor, John Love. This was a full six years before Roe established a woman's constitutional right to choose an abortion in 1973. So it's safe to say that Colorado citizens have a strong history of supporting privacy rights and opposing government intervention into our most personal decisions. Politicians who have crossed that privacy line have paid at the ballot box—just ask Ken Buck.

But Santorum's antiprivacy, antibirth control, "life begins at conception" position is hardly off the mark for the rest of the Republican presidential field. Mitt Romney told former Gov. Mike Huckabee, the winner of the 2008 Iowa caucus, that he would "absolutely" support an amendment to the U.S. Constitution proclaiming life begins at conception. As Massachusetts governor, Romney vetoed a bill in 2005 that would have expanded access to emergency contraception for rape survivors, and stated that the reason for his veto was because "it would also terminate a living embryo after conception." So by Mitt's anti emergency contraception reasoning, the rapist wins—the rapist has more of a right to determine the course of a woman's life than she does.

[See a collection of political cartoons on the Republican party.]

Romney also stated in his veto editorial in the Boston Globe, "I believe that the states, through the democratic process, should determine their own abortion laws and not have them dictated by judicial mandate." So it would appear that his opinions track Santorum's on the right to privacy and contraception.

Which brings us back to the birth control primary. According to the Centers for Disease Control, 99 percent of sexually active  American women use some form of birth control during their lifetime. With all due respect to the Duggar family—larger than Romney's margin of victory in Iowa—most women don't want to birth a football team (offense and defense).

The opposition to most forms of contraception by the Republican presidential candidates will have profound impact on our lives, and it is a serious public policy issue—far more important that Google searches or sweater vests.

  • See a collection of political cartoons on the 2012 GOP hopefuls.
  • See a slide show of 10 issues driving Obama's re-election campaign.
  • See the Top 5 GOP Candidate Gaffes of 2011