Most Read: National

Live Discussions

Carolyn Hax

Carolyn Hax

Chat transcript

Advice columnist Carolyn Hax took your questions live.

Weekly schedule, past shows

She the People
On Twitter Follow Us |  On Facebook Fan Us |  RSS RSS Feed
Posted at 09:37 PM ET, 01/06/2012

Rick Santorum: ‘The idea I’m coming after your birth control is absurd’

I keep hearing that, as a headline on Salon.com put it, “Rick Santorum is coming for your birth control.”

And will there follow a bonfire of the barrier methods for this latter-day Savonarola?

In a phone interview Friday night, I asked the GOP presidential candidate about these reports. “That’s me! Eliminate it all!’’ he said facetiously. “In fact, I think I’ll introduce a constitutional amendment to ban it.’’

In October, Santorum told a blogger this: “One of the things I will talk about, that no president has talked about before, is, I think, the dangers of contraception in this country. . . . Many of the Christian faith have said, well, that’s okay, contraception is okay. 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.”

Those remarks have been misinterpreted, he said. “I was asked if I believed in it, and I said, ‘No, I’m a Catholic, and I don’t.’ I don’t want the government to fund it through Planned Parenthood, but that’s different than wanting to ban it; the idea I’m coming after your birth control is absurd. I was making a statement about my moral beliefs, but I won’t impose them on anyone else in this case. I don’t think the government should be involved in that. People are free to make their own decisions.’’

The former Pennsylvania senator recently told ABC’s Jake Tapper that, yes, he disagrees with Griswold v. Connecticut, the 1965 Supreme Court decision that struck down a ban on contraception.

He said Friday evening that it’s the idea that states don’t have a right to pass such a law that he opposes, because he does not see the right to privacy as a constitutional right envisioned by its signers. This is hardly a new argument.

“It could have been a law against buying shoestrings; that it was contraception has nothing to do with it. States have the right to pass even dumb laws.”

To be clear, he does think that laws banning birth control would be dumb “for a number of reasons. Birth control should be legal in the United States. The states should not ban it, and I would oppose any effort to ban it.’’

I also asked him about a story he’s repeatedly batted down before — that he’s a hypocrite for opposing abortion because doctors reportedly induced labor to save his wife’s life in 1996. That’s not what happened, he said.

What did? In his wife Karen’s second trimester, he said, she “had some surgical procedures done to correct a fetal defect. She developed an infection in the placenta, and as a result, she came down with a high fever and went into labor. Instead of stopping the labor, which would have killed both her and the baby, we allowed the labor to continue.”

Under the circumstances, he said, there would have been nothing wrong with inducing labor. “The baby was going to die no matter what, and if she hadn’t already gone into labor, it would have been the equivalent of murder not to put her into labor. We did everything medically possible to save both.’’

They named the child Gabriel, and he lived for two hours. Santorum and his wife have been widely — and cruelly, in my view — criticized for their decision to bring their son home before burying him. Commentator Alan Colmes apologized for making light of the situation after he claimed the Santorums had brought their dead child home and “played with him.”

Why anyone thinks it’s okay to go after Santorum on this matter is beyond me. It isn’t decent, and it isn’t smart.

Likewise, disagree with his stance on birth control all you want; I certainly do, but I’d feel silly pretending to believe he’s going to be even metaphorically riffling through medicine chests and nightstands from coast to coast. If that’s the cleanest shot you’ve got, you might want to wait until a better one comes along.

By  |  09:37 PM ET, 01/06/2012

 
Read what others are saying
     

    © 2011 The Washington Post Company