Santorum clarifies birth control stance
February 17th, 2012
05:17 PM ET
3 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.

– Follow the Ticker on Twitter: @PoliticalTicker

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. Axel123

    Funny coming from the guy who got voted one of the most corrupt in the Senate in 2006. Santorum seems to be a Flip-Flopper on quite a few issues. I imagine since he does not want to pay for birth control he would rather pay for orphanages, half way houses, welfare and food stamps, and whatever other support unwanted children may need with our tax money.

    February 17, 2012 11:17 pm at 11:17 pm |
  2. Jilli

    Ok Ricky – which one is it? Santorums talking out of both sides of his mouth – does he really support access to contraception or does he support the person hood amendment? He's claimed he supports both, but he can't have it both ways, it's either one or the other. Which side of his mouth should we believe?

    February 17, 2012 11:18 pm at 11:18 pm |
  3. Dr. Lea

    He thinks it's harmful to women. Excellent. And contrary to ample medical evidence to the contrary. Someone should inform him than thousands of women take "the pill" for medical reasons other than birth control.

    February 17, 2012 11:27 pm at 11:27 pm |
  4. westward

    The GOP only solidified the female vote for Obama (53% of registered voters). And this, as stupid of a strategy as this was, was just one in a long line of ridiculously stupid plays made by them.

    February 17, 2012 11:35 pm at 11:35 pm |
  5. momei8x

    Best birthcontrol method is ..." just keep the dang thing in your pants!"

    February 17, 2012 11:36 pm at 11:36 pm |
  6. robert charles edge

    WOMEN of America Unite and Vote for YOUR RIGHTS
    OBAMA 2012 /CLINTON 2016

    February 18, 2012 12:13 am at 12:13 am |
  7. nytw

    Good to see Santorum can flip-flop as well as Romney.

    February 18, 2012 12:26 am at 12:26 am |
  8. GrowUpGrowUp

    Republicans want to "take back" the country. Sane people want to take it forward.

    February 18, 2012 12:43 am at 12:43 am |
  9. M.K.

    The GOP is very, very, hard up if this is all they can come up with.

    February 18, 2012 12:43 am at 12:43 am |
  10. M.K.

    CNN needs to be more specific on why they have to moderate a simple statement like I just posted. They would raise holy hell if they were censored like they censor us.

    February 18, 2012 12:47 am at 12:47 am |
  11. mk1

    Considering the agendas of state officials once elected recently, I don't believe a thing Santorum says. How many governors ran on economic issues and when they won, turned around and legislated social policies. One thing is not in doubt, we can not trust Republicans in the slightest.

    February 18, 2012 01:13 am at 1:13 am |
  12. Marry

    Santorum clarified nothing besides that he is a jerk. But, we already know that. The next thing you going to hear from Santorum is that the President is not a Christian because he and his wife probably practice birth control since they only have two daughters… Opps, he already accused the President to wage a war on the Catholic Church…
    Santorum is an insult to every thinking voter!

    February 18, 2012 01:24 am at 1:24 am |
  13. ItsAMirage

    Ah Ricky Ricky Ricky. See, you are like Mittens, backpedaddlers till the end!

    February 18, 2012 01:26 am at 1:26 am |
  14. Michelle

    Where was the statistic that males over 50 are the only ones that even care about this issue? I will be really glad when the older bafoons are in the ground so America can quit acting stupid and actually compete in the modern world. Hurry up and croak already, I'm getting really tired of the same old culture war issues.

    February 18, 2012 01:36 am at 1:36 am |
  15. Nitin

    Rick, become gay already, you won't have to worry about birth control!

    We know you are dying to do it!

    February 18, 2012 02:14 am at 2:14 am |
  16. Bryan

    Abstinence education!? Come on!!

    February 18, 2012 02:30 am at 2:30 am |
  17. Stentor

    Sounds to me like someone's media handlers told him he had screwed up in a major way & that he'd better do some damage control. It doesn't matter, he's said enough offensive things over the years that this will be seen as an obvious ploy to lure women voters back towards him. Good luck with that little Ricky.

    Rick Santorum – voted the dumbest member of Congress in 1998 by Ken Silverstein for The Progressive

    February 18, 2012 03:09 am at 3:09 am |
  18. Roland Clark

    I can't believe anyone takes this guy seriously.

    February 18, 2012 04:30 am at 4:30 am |
  19. FCVA

    Is his message really, "This is what I believe (can't even go there!), but if I am elected President, I will go against my beliefs." Now, there is a guy that instills confidence. Are these guys really the best the GOP has to offer?

    February 18, 2012 05:41 am at 5:41 am |
  20. chetboyle

    How do these guys have the audacity to say stuff that is easily proven false by video or audio proof? How gullible are some people these days?

    February 18, 2012 06:20 am at 6:20 am |
  21. mb2010a

    Too late, Ricky-Bob. You just lost ALL the women voters from both parties...you are toast. Obama 2012.

    February 18, 2012 06:40 am at 6:40 am |
  22. josh101

    To say that birth control is harmful to society is just such a bunch of nonsense. There are plenty of studies available that contradict this but why base your opinion on research and facts, right??? For Santorum to say that he thinks it is bad for society can only mean one of two things: 1) He lies and says this just for the election or 2) He is so naive about the real world that it is sad.

    February 18, 2012 06:45 am at 6:45 am |
  23. Lisa

    Why doesn't he just tell the truth? His belief is that 80% of the country is wrong on the issue, and he's a proud member of the 20% who would like to take us back to the 50's, coat hangers and all. What a great choice for President..

    February 18, 2012 06:53 am at 6:53 am |
  24. jack

    If Republicans could, they would have women in Burkas.

    February 18, 2012 07:00 am at 7:00 am |
  25. jack

    We all need to send E-mails to all Representatives in Washington and all Representatives in our specfic State, that we demand that abortion rights remain legal and all birth control products be made available to all who choose to use them. Please get this done ASAP.

    February 18, 2012 07:10 am at 7:10 am |
1 2 3 4 5 6