The Post’s Right Turn blogger Jennifer Rubin recently drew attention to the former Pennsylvania senator’s 2006 comments on contraception, which he called “harmful to women.” Santorum has spoken frequently over the years about why he believes private morality is relevant in the public square.
The teachings of the Catholic Church on sexuality, which prohibit the use of artificial birth control, are not particularly popular among Catholics, not to mention Americans at large, but that has not stopped Santorum from sharing his convictions on the harms of contraception. (Read what the church teaches about family planning here.)
Here’s Santorum, a father of seven, during a 2011 interview with the CaffeinatedThoughts.com blog (emphasis mine):
One of the things I will talk about that no president has talked about before is the dangers of contraception in this country, the whole sexual libertine idea. Many in the Christian faith have said, ‘Well, that’s okay. Contraception’s okay.’ It’s not okay because it’s a license to do things in the sexual realm that is counter to how things are supposed to be.
[Sexual relationships] are supposed to be within marriage, they are supposed to be for purposes that are, yes, conjugal and unitive 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.
Here’s the passage from the Catechism of the Catholic Church that echoes the sentiments raised by Santorum:
The spouses’ union achieves the twofold end of marriage: the good of the spouses themselves and the transmission of life. These two meanings or values of marriage cannot be separated without altering the couple’s spiritual life and compromising the goods of marriage and the future of the family.
Santorum’s beliefs about contraception have injected Catholic theology into a presidential campaign season that was supposed to be all about the economy. Despite his strong opinions on birth control, the senator has said many times that he does not believe that contraception should be outlawed.
And when it comes to this week’s explosive social issues controversy, Health and Human Service’s new regulations on religious employers covering birth control for employees, Santorum sides with Catholic Church officials, too. Here’s his explanation during the Feb. 12 “Meet the Press” of how he squares his own views on birth control with access to contraception and the current health-care debate:
David Gregory: Do you think this is a public health issue for women? I’ve heard you say before you think contraception is dangerous.
Santorum: Well, I — what I’ve talked about it with respect is my Catholic faith, which, you know, I, I agree with the Catholic Church on the issue of contraception. But as you know, I mean, I — that’s, that’s a different position than I have with respect to public policy. You know, public policy, women should have access to contraception. I have no problem with that at all. The question is whether some religious organization should be forced to pay for something that they believe is a moral wrong, and the issue is — the answer to that is no. And under the Obama administration policy, they are continuing to be forced to do so.