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. Sam Adams

    The government should take the position that federal laws do not recognize religious beliefs. All employers must obey the same laws. The issue of conscience is a personal one, as Santorum says, not one that the government should acknowledge as a religious argument.

    In this matter, as in matters involving marriage, religion should not have any say. The First Amendment cuts both ways. People are free to practice religion as they want to, but no religion should expect the government to listen to them when that religion wants to impose its beliefs on the public.

    February 17, 2012 08:30 pm at 8:30 pm |
  2. asm_ith

    Santorum says that he thinks "it's harmful to women" and "it's harmful to our society." It is absurd to believe that he won't try to do something to "correct" these things which he believes are "harmful" if he gets the power.of the Presidency.

    February 17, 2012 08:37 pm at 8:37 pm |
  3. zip

    Little Ricky wants to take America back to the 50s. The 1850s.

    February 17, 2012 08:49 pm at 8:49 pm |
  4. Linda

    When will people learn that abstinence isn't a good policy. It doesn't reduce the teen pregnancy rate unless teens practice abstinence. Preach it all you want. Contraceptives are better at preventing pregnancy and also are necessary for women experiencing problems with their reproductive organs. Mr. Santorum, having more than two children is irresponsible-if you can have your opinion, I can have mine.

    February 17, 2012 08:49 pm at 8:49 pm |
  5. Blessed Geek

    I understand the pro-life stance. But birth control is pro-life advocacy to prevent abortions.

    But why on earth do Evangelicals even support the Catholic concept of birth-control. Just because they think a Mormon being a Mormon is dangerous? That is their priority – to side with Catholic nonsensical barrier against abortion reduction, against their good senses of prevention of murder of unborn babies just to prevent a Mormon from gaining office or prominence. It is better that millions of babies get murdered than a Mormon becoming President.

    February 17, 2012 09:01 pm at 9:01 pm |
  6. hector9

    Santorum...The ultimate argument for contraception

    February 17, 2012 09:03 pm at 9:03 pm |
  7. babs

    Rick Tornscrotum is out of touch with America in 2011. If nominated he will do irreparable harm to the Republican Party.

    February 17, 2012 09:15 pm at 9:15 pm |
  8. Audrey

    Suuurrrree. That's why the frothing fundies are following him around with their bus loads of children. They know what he doesn't have the cajones to say right now: his true agenda.

    February 17, 2012 09:17 pm at 9:17 pm |
  9. GimeeABreak

    He never said he would campaign against contraception. And you liars know it. You whine on about the Catholic Church for forbidding the pill to women with Gynaelogocal or other physical problems problems .MORE LIES. I'm a Catholic woman and I can tell you that women have talen the pill for years to correct physical hormonal im balances etc.

    Why don't you admit it – you're ANTI-CATHOLIC. Don't hide, snivelling behind liesd and misinformation.

    You're a shower of BIGOTS and not even very bright ones. Period.

    February 17, 2012 09:22 pm at 9:22 pm |
  10. RTfromIL

    Santorum, as well as the Catholic Bishops, sound like they want a Rapist Bill of Rights.

    February 17, 2012 09:25 pm at 9:25 pm |
  11. Nft

    Santorum is a sad case of ignorance. He also believes we arrived on earth less than 6,000 years ago as we are today. And, look at the explosion of the population since then!

    February 17, 2012 09:49 pm at 9:49 pm |
  12. TB

    I'm sorry...but I don't believe Santorum. His Church...the Roman Catholic Church...teaches that contraception is a sin against God. I believe this is the true basis for his opposition to birth control...

    February 17, 2012 09:51 pm at 9:51 pm |
  13. PR

    Santorbum is now flip-floping...typical lying POS. If elected Rick Santorbum will lead us back into the dark ages.

    February 17, 2012 09:59 pm at 9:59 pm |
  14. timz

    "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. "

    Sorry, Ricky . . . "your" positions just don't matter that much. Foster Friess purchased the right to define your message by giving you hundreds of thousands of dollars. You took the money and now you're stuck with it. Welcome to the new politics.

    February 17, 2012 10:02 pm at 10:02 pm |
  15. steven harnack

    I guess that he forgot all about the internet and video tape.

    February 17, 2012 10:08 pm at 10:08 pm |
  16. BeMine

    Seriously, poor women should just abstain from their husbands? Brilliant idea! I think that might work! Not.

    February 17, 2012 10:13 pm at 10:13 pm |
  17. Marcus

    Who cares what Santorum says or what his beliefs are? I'm not religious and could care less what any church says about anything! WHY?

    I don't vote Republican and I don't go to church Try it sometime!

    February 17, 2012 10:20 pm at 10:20 pm |
  18. Randy, San Francisco

    Has Santorum caught the Romney "flip flop" disease? Heard it is as contagious as the Palin "foot in the mouth" disease. Santorum's spin won't fool moderate and independent voters.

    February 17, 2012 10:20 pm at 10:20 pm |
  19. Laura K

    That we're even discussing a woman's reproductive right to birth conrol in 2012 presidential politics shows how pathetically backwards the US has fallen.

    February 17, 2012 10:27 pm at 10:27 pm |
  20. Seattle Sue

    Santorum, one lie after another lie.

    February 17, 2012 10:32 pm at 10:32 pm |
  21. George

    Unfortunately for Rick, there is video of him (easily found on YouTube) saying quite clearly that "birth control is not OK" even for married couples. And that he would AS PRESIDENT confront the evils of contraception. Good luck with that platform, Rick.

    February 17, 2012 10:43 pm at 10:43 pm |
  22. Larry in Houston

    @Rudy – I applaud You – You're doing a Great Job !
    @teena – I Agree !! I also had a big LOL
    @namejkane fl – – Keep up the good work !!

    February 17, 2012 10:49 pm at 10:49 pm |
  23. My name is Jose Jimenez

    Lies are no problem, just go to confession on Saturday and all is forgive on Sunday. Lie the rest of the week, then repeat the cycle.

    February 17, 2012 11:06 pm at 11:06 pm |
  24. laughing duck

    Apparently Santorum just learned that 81% of Americans don't think contraception is wrong. Another discovery on his path to reality and he has to readjust his belief system again. If he learns quick enough by the time he loses the nomination to Romney he may end up being a likable liberal.

    February 17, 2012 11:08 pm at 11:08 pm |
  25. Doh

    He is not to be trusted. He will attempt to force his beliefs on everyone.

    February 17, 2012 11:11 pm at 11:11 pm |
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