Rick Santorum Declared Contraception ‘Harmful to Women’ in 2006

Feb 15, 2012 5:25pm
ap santorum tk 120210 wblog Rick Santorum Declared Contraception Harmful to Women in 2006

                                                                                      (Image Credit: Eric Gay / AP Photo)

With Rick Santorum’s surge has come renewed scrutiny of his record, particularly on some social issues such as contraception.

It is an issue on which Santorum is personally conservative and on which his policy position has crept to the right in recent years.

In a 2006 interview with a Comcast program and posted by the YouTube user “Santorumexposed,” which has existed for years, Santorum, amid an ultimately unsuccessful run for re-election in purple Pennsylvania, says he supports a legal right to access contraception, which he says he doesn’t think is effective and is “harmful to women” and “harmful to our society.”

“I vote and have supported birth control because it is not the taking of human life. But I’m not a believer in birth control and artificial birth control. I think it goes down the line of being able to do whatever you want to do without having the responsibility that comes with that. I think it breaks that … this is from a personal point of view of, from a governmental point of view I support that Title X,” he said.

“I guess it is and have voted for contraception, although 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.”

Watch the 2006 interview here.

That 2006 interview was the subject of a column by conservative columnist Jennifer Rubin, arguing in the Washington Post today that Santorum is wrong.

“The impression that Santorum finds the prevalent practice of birth control ‘harmful to women’ is, frankly, mind-numbing,” Rubin wrote.

Santorum’s policy position has moved to the right since 2006. He now endorses repealing Clinton-era sections of Title X, the federal grant program that promotes family planning and provides funds to Planned Parenthood, according to his campaign website.

And his personal position against contraception has solidified. In October, he said in an interview with the Christian blog Caffeinated Thoughts that contraception use factors into “the whole sexual libertine idea.”

He said that as president, he would seek to repeal the Obama health care and get rid of any kind of idea that you have to have “any kind of abortion coverage, any kind of contraceptive coverage.”

And he said he disagrees with others in the Christian faith who believe that contraception is OK.

“It’s not OK because it’s a license to do things in the sexual realm that is counter to how things are supposed to be,” he said. They’re supposed to be within marriage, they are supposed to be for purposes that are, yes, conjugal, but also, but also procreative. That’s the perfect way that a sexual union should happen. We take any part of that out, we diminish the act. And if you can take one part out that’s not for purposes of procreation, that’s not one of the reasons, then you diminish this very special bond between men and women, so why can’t you take other parts of that out? And all of a sudden, it becomes deconstructed to the point where it’s simply pleasure. And that’s certainly a part of it—and it’s an important part of it, don’t get me wrong—but there’s a lot of things we do for pleasure, and this is special, and it needs to be seen as special.”

He later added, “I know most Presidents don’t talk about those things, and maybe people don’t want us to talk about those things, but I think it’s important that you are who you are. I’m not running for preacher. I’m not running for pastor, but these are important public policy issues. These how profound impact on the health of our society.”

Contraception was an issue earlier in the campaign when George Stephanopoulos asked Mitt Romney if he supported Santorum’s position that states should have the ability to ban contraception. Santorum has said he doesn’t support such a law, but he supports a state’s right to enact it. The Supreme Court guaranteed a right to contraception via a right to privacy in the 1965 Griswold vs. Connecticut decision.

“George, this is an unusual topic that you’re raising,” Romney said at the time. “States have a right to ban contraception? I can’t imagine a state banning contraception. I can’t imagine the circumstances where a state would want to do so, and if I were a governor of a state or – or a legislature of a state – I would totally and completely oppose any effort to ban contraception. So you’re asking – given the fact that there’s no state that wants to do so, and I don’t know of any candidate that wants to do so.”

It was a protracted and tense moment in the debate that ended with Romney declaring, “Contraception, it’s working just fine, just leave it alone.”

Despite Romney’s assertion that it’s working “just fine,” he has said that eliminating Title X would be one of the ways he would cut spending when he released his fiscal policy plan in November.

His suggestion to “eliminate Title X family planning programs” was an example of a program Romney “we don’t need or can’t afford.”

Most Americans agree with Romney that its working just fine. The Obama administration came under fire from the Catholic Church and Republicans for a mandating last year that Catholic charities and hospitals cover contraception in their health insurance plans. That mandate was tweaked last week to put a wall between the religious organizations and the insurance companies. But employees of those groups will still have access to contraception coverage.

That mandate evenly split Americans in a recent poll, but contraception generally enjoys a vast majority of support.

ABC’s Shushannah Walshe and Emily Friedman contributed to this report.

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