Santorum clarifies birth control stance
February 17th, 2012
05:17 PM ET
2 years ago

Santorum clarifies birth control stance

(CNN) – Rick Santorum sought to bring some clarity to his birth control position on Friday, which he said has been misconstrued by opponents which have put him on both sides of the issue.

"My position is birth control can and should be available," the former senator from Pennsylvania said at a campaign event in Columbus, Ohio.

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Santorum has worked to distinguish between his public policy position, and his personal beliefs, which he explains is guided by his Catholic faith.

"My personal position is well known, obviously well known," he said. "As a Catholic – and I do my best to be a faithful Catholic – my wife and I we don't believe or practice birth control as an article of faith of our church."

A February CNN/ORC International Poll shows that 81% of Americans - and 77% of Catholics - disagree with the notion that artificial means of birth control is wrong.

The White House recently announced a proposal which would require companies and insurance providers to cover costs of birth control. After facing a barrage of public pressure - from, among others, Catholic bishops - the White House announced a compromise, though that plan was similarly criticized.

- More: Obama administration asks for delay in legal fight over contraception

A wealthy Santorum backer, Foster Friess, landed himself in headlines Thursday for a birth control joke, which the candidate described as "stupid," "off-color," and not representative of his positions. The comment drew the ire of several women's organizations, and Friess - who has donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to a pro-Santorum super PAC - apologized for the comment in a Friday post on his website.

Santorum drew the distinction between his personal and policy stance in a 2006 interview which has lately gone viral.

"I support Title X, I guess it is, and have voted for contraception and although I don't think it works, I think it's harmful to women, I think it's harmful to our society," he said in the interview with Fox News.

His campaign website says he wants to "repeal Clinton-era Title X family planning regulations, and will direct HHS to restore the separation of Title X family planning from abortion practices and restore a ban on referrals for abortion."

Title X is a family planning grant program primarily for low-income individuals originally created in 1970, according to the Department of Health and Human Services website. The site says the law disallows federal funding for programs which involve abortion.

And on Friday, Santorum emphasized that his personal opposition to birth control should not raise concerns about the availability or legality of contraception should he be elected president.

"That's my personal belief and I think to be attacked on that, which I have been, that somehow or another just because I personally believe this that somehow I am now going to be the uber-czar that is going to try to impose that on the rest of the country," he said. "It is absurd and it is absurd based on my record in the Congress."

"I have voted in the past for funding for it for poor women," he added. "As I said before, I believe that the better alternative is for abstinence education – for federal funds to be used for that, not for birth control but I voted for it."

- CNN's Mary Snow, Ashley Killough, and Gregory Wallace contributed to this report.

Also see:

Friess apologizes for birth control comment

Poll: Santorum remains on top in Michigan

Maine GOP chair: Romney will maintain win

Republican donor expected to shell out $10 million to Gingrich super PAC


Filed under: 2012 • Health care • Rick Santorum
soundoff (128 Responses)
  1. Namejkane fl

    Join the clown club, vote republican!!!

    February 17, 2012 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  2. Get Real

    Hmmmmmmmmmm. A little back-peddling here me thinks.

    February 17, 2012 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  3. Jules

    His opinion is that women should not use birth control and that it is damaging to him. If I hadn't used birth control we would have had at least a football team instead of the 4 sons we have.

    February 17, 2012 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  4. Jules

    His opinion is that women should not use birth control and that it is damaging to them. If I hadn't used birth control we would have had at least a football team instead of the 4 sons we have. Many women are given birth control pills to regulate periods so they can conceive. Back to the dark ages we go with Retro Santorum.

    February 17, 2012 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  5. DENNA

    The easy answer would be men should keep their hands to themselves if they don't want to marry the woman. Until that happens, I don't think any man has any right to decide about birth control. That stupid asprin between the knees comment was so stupid that I cannot believe that someone who is not mentally ill would say such a thing. Men should practice abstinence.

    February 17, 2012 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  6. Jake

    there is plenty of UNEDITED video that says otherwise, Mr. Santorum!

    February 17, 2012 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
  7. Matt

    Ok Rick.....flip flopper.

    February 17, 2012 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  8. Namejkane fl

    What a joke issue, I guess the teapublican bafoons never heard or don't care about the #1 issue ,jobs, oh, never mind the economys coming back without your help. L guess you should try 2016$$$$$$

    February 17, 2012 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  9. Valentina

    I just don't understand how one can be guided by personal beliefs one way, but act on public policy in a totally different way. Isn't it what's called being hypocritical?

    February 17, 2012 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
  10. teena

    Hey Santorum–ask your other tea bag buddy Palin how abstinecne educatiuon worked for her family!

    February 17, 2012 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  11. Rudy NYC

    "My position is birth control can and should be available," the former senator from Pennsylvania said.
    -----
    That totally contradicts what he said on a Christian radion station interview last fall, where he suggested that the seperation of church and state is wrong. That his administration would reflect his morals and values. BTW, a week ago he sounded like he was against contraception. How can he be the devout Catholic that he claims and favor birth control. He has been critical of Planned Parenthood, which conservatives love to say offers free contraceptives, and expressed views suggesting he would shut all of them down. I don't believe a word he's saying here. This man is extreme to the core of his values.

    February 17, 2012 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  12. bob

    The only reason he's saying this is because of the backlash against anti-birth control people like him. What a joke.

    February 17, 2012 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  13. Stacey

    Stop lying Santorum.

    February 17, 2012 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  14. Thomas

    Rick Santorum is a good Catholic ,

    The Issue:
    Why doesn’t Rick Santorum want to protect other people’s right to compensation if they’re victims of medical malpractice?

    Rick voted to prevent Americans from getting just compensation for their pain and suffering caused by medical malpractice
    But that didn’t keep Rick’s wife from suing a Virginia chiropractor for a half million dollars in “pain and suffering”
    Pretty hypocritical, since that’s twice as much as the cap on such damages that his own legislation would have allowed others to receive
    Rick calls their own lawsuit a “private family matter,” but doesn’t seem to think everyone else’s family deserves the same rights and respect

    February 17, 2012 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  15. Debbie

    GOP offered zero on candidates. This guy is from the stone age. Romney isn't concerned about the poor or middle class or wealthy only uber wealthy. Paul has a few good ideas but wacky on the others. Since the GOP has made it their platform to decide whats best for women politically, socially, religion, etc I choose to no longer consider GOP candidates to vote for.

    February 17, 2012 05:51 pm at 5:51 pm |
  16. Lisa P

    What woman would trust her health care to this mealy-mouthed liar? He and his religious right buddies have come up with a thousand ways to eat away or undercut our ability to exercise our right to reproductive health care - who cares if the Pill is legal if you can't afford it, or have to jump through a hundred hoops to get it, or your pharmacist can refuse to give it to you? But Santorum is perfectly o.k. with women having to pay for his buddies' Viagra - hey, let's make *that* available over the counter and in every supermarket! Of course, if all that activity winds up creating a little potential Santorum then the woman's on the hook again, this time for prenatal costs...

    Hey, Rick, how about talking about something you are going to do instead of lying about something you supposedly aren't going to do? How about fully funding the medical costs of pregnancy and post-natal care? See how quickly the cheapskate misogynous pro-lifers suddenly discover the value of birth control...

    February 17, 2012 05:54 pm at 5:54 pm |
  17. DENNA

    LOL can't resist this: Is this like the "wide stance" of Larry Craig? Sorry. :-)

    February 17, 2012 05:58 pm at 5:58 pm |
  18. Anonymous

    Santorum is saying this hypocritical statement due to the backlash and his desperation to win, anything to win, even not stand up for the beliefs you said you would previously. What a joke. Someone please call this guy out on this.

    February 17, 2012 05:58 pm at 5:58 pm |
  19. AH in CO

    I think Santorum has a good grasp on who he is representing, the American Public, and acknowledges his own beliefs on a personal basis, which is different, but his record states his belief in the right of the public to make their own decisions and that he won't force it down our throats, and has proven that in the past by the way he has voted. How is that hypocritical?

    February 17, 2012 06:04 pm at 6:04 pm |
  20. AH in CO

    I like Santorum for his values, like Romney for his financial background, but I'm scared of Romneycare.

    February 17, 2012 06:08 pm at 6:08 pm |
  21. UsHonor

    What's he doing flip flopping. Santorum is corrupt. Watch what happened to young girls and women in this video. Talk about rights being denied. YouTube video the gang of four starring Rick santorum.

    February 17, 2012 06:09 pm at 6:09 pm |
  22. GGayle

    Denna say: The easy answer would be men should keep their hands to themselves if they don't want to marry the woman.
    I say: But birth control isn't just for single women! It's for married women too, unless you think it's reasonable for a woman to risk pregnancy every time she sleeps with her husband. Santorum's view of women as breeders will quickly knock women out of the work force and make them financially dependent on men and back under men's thumbs, everything that the women's equality movement has fought so hard to defeat.

    February 17, 2012 06:10 pm at 6:10 pm |
  23. Maggie

    Precisely Jules. He thinks you should have had that football team, whether you could afford them or not.

    February 17, 2012 06:22 pm at 6:22 pm |
  24. Romney is not My Hero

    Sanctimonious sweater vest is having trouble telling the truth, just like his opponent Robot Romney. They are both flip flopping idiots and wasting everyone's time. They will never be president.

    Obama 2012

    February 17, 2012 06:26 pm at 6:26 pm |
  25. jaywing

    Rick, either you don't know what's coming out of your mouth and you're mentally unstable, or you know what's coming out of your mouth but you wish you hadn't said it. In either case, why would we vote for someone like you in the general election? The vast majority of Americans do not want to return to the 13th century, do not want a theocracy and would prefer if you tell us how you would fix an economy that was broken by your cronies in the GOP under Bush.

    February 17, 2012 06:27 pm at 6:27 pm |
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