Here is an actual Rick Santorum quote: “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.” And also, “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.”
These comments were not dug up from some bygone moment of ideological purity, before dreams of a presidential campaign. He said them in October, to a blogger at CaffeinatedThoughts.com (they met at Des Moines’ Baby Boomers Cafe).
It’s pretty basic: Rick Santorum is coming for your contraception. Any and all of it. And while he may not be alone in his opposition to non-procreative sex, he is certainly the most honest about it — as he himself acknowledged in the interview.
This is important, because while reproductive rights are always cast in terms of pro or against a woman’s right to an abortion and in what circumstances, even liberals are surprised to find out what social conservatives really want to do about contraception. Liberals are even willing to cast the proposed defunding of Planned Parenthood and all Title X programs (a position that has become mainstream in Republican circles) as an abortion issue, when it is actually about contraception. (The Hyde Amendment already bans almost all federal abortion funding.) So is this about “babies” or is this about sex? Rick Santorum isn’t even pretending it’s (only) about childbearing.
Speaking to ABC News’ Jake Tapper, Santorum recently reaffirmed his opposition to Griswold v. Connecticut, the 1965 Supreme Court decision that struck down a ban on discussing or providing contraception to married couples, and established a right to privacy that would later be integral to Roe v. Wade and Lawrence v. Texas. (It is generally better-known how Santorum feels about gay people.) That would be the case where the majority asked, “Would we allow the police to search the sacred precincts of marital bedrooms for telltale signs of the use of contraceptives? The very idea is repulsive to the notions of privacy surrounding the marriage relationship.” Rick Santorum disagrees. He thinks, using the currently popular states’ rights parlance, that “the state has a right to do that, I have never questioned that the state has a right to do that. It is not a constitutional right, the state has the right to pass whatever statues they have.” This is a view Santorum has held at least since 2003.
The trouble with this is that not only have more than 99 percent of sexually active women used at least one form of birth control, helping people get access to birth control is actually a popular issue. According to a June survey by the Public Religion Research Institute, 82 percent of Americans actually want to expand access to birth control for women who cannot afford it, while only 16 percent were opposed.
Santorum isn’t alone. Five of the current or former Republican presidential candidates signed the Personhood Pledge (though unlike Santorum, Michele Bachmann and Herman Cain, Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul added some caveats to their support). Mitt Romney told Mike Huckabee he’d support an amendment saying life begins at conception — which Personhood folks interpret as the fertilization of an egg, meaning that contraceptives like the IUD and sometimes even the pill are murderous. (Good luck figuring out what Romney actually thinks on that one.)
Santorum just happens to be happiest putting it at the top of the agenda. In the Caffeinated Thoughts video, he promises that “all those issues are going to be front and center with me,” and says, ”I know most presidents don’t talk about these things and maybe people don’t want us to talk about these things. But I think it’s important that you are who you are… these are important public policy issues.” Among those important public policy issues: Sex for fun. In the same video, Santorum bemoans sex becoming “deconstructed to the point where it’s simply pleasure.”
Many people don’t want them to talk about these things because it shows the true colors of what social conservatives wish for this country, which is very different from what Americans wish for themselves. Maybe the near-win in Iowa yesterday is the end of the road for Santorum, and maybe no one will ever succeed by openly suggesting a contraception ban that would send the condom police into America’s bedrooms. But that’s clearly the world Santorum wants, and it’s one that is entirely consistent with the antiabortion movement’s goals. That would be the same movement that over the past year decided it had a mandate in states across the country, the same one that demanded endless obeisance from the Republican candidates in Iowa this year — and mostly got it.
By: Irin Carmon, Salon, January 4, 2012
As noted in my last post, one of the most counter-factual assertions about the Republican presidential nomination contest is that it’s “about” the economy.
Guess that’s why Rick Perry, who began his campaign boasting of his world-beating jobs record (sic!) in Texas, is now ending his go-for-broke comeback effort in Iowa by announcing he is suddenly adopting the most extreme position available on abortion:
Gov. Rick Perry said Tuesday that he had undergone a “transformation” on the issue of abortion and now believed that there should be no exceptions made for rape, incest or the life of the mother….“I really started giving some thought about the issue of rape and incest,” Mr. Perry told a local pastor who had questioned whether he had changed his position on the issue.
While it’s good news to hear that Perry is “giving some thought” to any issue, having pretty much campaigned on the basis of what the reptilian segments of his brain dictated, the reality is that his campaign is now focused monomaniacally on outflanking Newt Gingrich, Michele Bachmann, and Rick Santorum in appealing to Iowa’s divided Christian Right activist base.
This isn’t Perry’s first lurch to the right on abortion; back in August, under interrogation from Christian Right chieftain Tony Perkins, he repudiated his previous “states’ rights” position in favor of the more radical proposition of a federal constitutional amendment to repeal the right to choose.
But the more Perry “thinks” about it, the more determined he becomes to bend the knee to the most hard-core anti-choicers. If the Iowa caucuses were somehow delayed a couple of weeks, he’d probably come out for a national compulsory pregnancy mandate.
By: Ed Kilgore, Published in Washington Monthly Political Animal, December 28, 2011
In a medical emergency, the last thing we should be worried about is whether a hospital is going to put ideology ahead of the care we need to protect our lives and health. But if anti-choice lawmakers get their way, women and their loved ones will have to watch their backs.
Yesterday the House passed an unprecedented bill that would allow hospitals to let women die at their doorsteps. It sounds almost unbelievable — but utter disregard for the well-being of women who need abortion care has tragically reached new levels in the House.
The bill, the so-called “Protect Life Act” does anything but. Indeed, it gambles with women’s lives. It could allow hospitals to ignore the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act (EMTALA) which requires that patients in medical emergencies receive appropriate medical treatment, including abortion care if that’s what’s medically indicated.
The bill’s proponents will first tell you that this is necessary to protect religiously affiliated hospitals, and then claim that there’s no such thing as emergency abortion care (which begs the question of why they’re so intent on overriding it). They’re wrong on both fronts.
First, the denial of appropriate medical care to a woman suffering from emergency pregnancy complications can be devastating. The following story recorded in the American Journal of Public Health is just one example:
A woman with a condition that prevented her blood from clotting was in the process of miscarrying at a Catholic-owned hospital. According to her doctor, she was dying before his eyes, her eyes filling with blood. But even though her life was in danger, and the fetus had no chance of survival, the hospital wouldn’t let the doctor treat her by terminating the pregnancy until the fetal heartbeat ceased of its own accord. She ended up in the I.C.U.
Second, even the Catholic Health Association, the leadership organization for Catholic hospitals — hardly an anti-religious or pro-choice lobby — has told Congress that they don’t “believe that there is a need for the [refusal] section to apply to EMTALA.” The very institutions on whose behalf this heinous provision has been proposed are saying “don’t do this.” But so far, the bill’s sponsors remain unmoved.
Every representative who voted for this bill should hear from you and be made to think about the woman, mid-miscarriage, bleeding and scared out of her wits, who rushes to the nearest hospital only to be told by her doctor that he’s not allowed to treat her. Think about that woman, and then tell us — what are you going to do?
By: Sarah Lipton-Lubet, Policy Counsel, ACLU Legislative Office, Published in RH Reality Check, October 14, 2011
If you’re a woman from Texas—or indeed, any woman—there’s a lot to dislike about Gov. Rick Perry.
Perry reminds me of the scene in Thelma and Louise in which Thelma (Geena Davis) says of her n’er-do-well husband, “He kind of prides himself on being infantile.” Louise (Susan Sarandon) responds, “He’s got a lot to be proud of.”
So as we all prepare for the media barrage surrounding Perry’s presidential announcement on Saturday, and in tradition of my idol Molly Ivins, I’m going to start a new group, Texas Women Enraged by Rick Perry—TWERP for short.
As TWERP’s organizer, I feel obliged to point out that on a practical level, Rick Perry has made it pretty lousy for women in Texas, especially for women at the bottom of the economic ladder. He’s also made it pretty lousy for anybody who doesn’t look like him. As Eileen Smith wrote in the Texas Observer, “In just one session, Republicans managed to screw children, women, gays, immigrants, teachers, the elderly, Hispanics, the unemployed and the uninsured. The only people who got off easy were white guys. Can’t imagine why.”
The numbers tell the tale. Texas is dead last in the number of non-elderly women without health insurance, and 6th nationally in the percentage of women in poverty, according to the Texas Legislative Study Group. One in five Texas children lack health insurance, the highest rate in the nation. And if that weren’t bad enough, Perry tried to opt out of Medicaid, which provides healthcare to the most vulnerable Texas populations, including pregnant women and children.
When it comes to reproductive healthcare, the state budget guts family planning, leaving 284,000 Texas women without birth control or access to basic reproductive healthcare. This will also likely increase the abortion rate, sonograms or no sonograms. And of course there’s the standard right wing assault on Planned Parenthood. Women needing prenatal care fare no better.
As reported in the Texas Tribune, “Texas has the worst rate of pregnant women receiving prenatal care in the first trimester, according to the report commissioned by the Legislative Study Group…And though Texas has the highest percent of its population without health insurance, the state is 49th in per capita spending on Medicaid, and dead last in per capita spending on mental health, according to the report.”
So if you’re a working class Texas woman, Rick Perry doesn’t want you to have access to birth control or reproductive healthcare to prevent unintended pregnancy, but once you’re pregnant the state mandates a sonogram and a lecture to convince you of the error of your ways. After that sonogram and lecture, if you need prenatal care, you’re SOL. And once the baby is born, Texas is 47th in monthly benefit payments under the Women, Infants, & Children program, which provides nutrition assistance.
This is Rick Perry’s vision for women in the United States. Limited healthcare, little birth control, low income women and kids left to fend for themselves, a bunch of bureaucrats telling you what to do—and the very real human suffering that goes along with it. TWERP might be an understatement.
By: Laura Chapin, U. S. News and World Report, August 11, 2011
So in the wake of the “Cut, Cap and Balance Pledge” signed by seven Republican presidential candidates, and the “Pro-Life Presidential Pledge” signed by five, along comes Iowa social conservative kingpin Bob Vander Plaats of the Family Leader organization with a new pledge–actually an oath–it calls “The Marriage Vow.”
You have to read this document to believe it. Styled as a “pro-family” platform, the pledge goes far beyond the usual condemnations of same-sex marriage and abortion and requires support for restrictions on divorce (hardly a federal matter), the firing of military officers who place women in forward combat roles, and “recognition of the overwhelming statistical evidence that married people enjoy better health, better sex, longer lives, [and] greater financial stability.” If that’s not enough, it also enjoins “recognition that robust childbearing and reproduction is beneficial to U.S. demographic, economic, strategic and actuarial health and security.” This, in case you are wondering, is a nod to the “Full Quiver (or Quiverfull) Movement” that encourages large families in a patriarchal structure as a religious obligation, not to mention to those anti-choicers who want to ban some of the most popular forms of contraception.
The preamble to the “Marriage Vow” is even weirder, asserting among other things that “faithful monogomy” was a central preoccupation of the Founding Fathers; that slaves benefitted from stronger families than African-Americans have today; and that any claims there is a genetic basis for homosexuality are “anti-scientific.”
The “Marriage Vow” seems tailor-made to feed the backlash against ever-proliferating “pledges” imposed on Republican presidential candidates by the Right. But Vander Plaats and his group cannot be dissed without risk by anyone wanting to win the Iowa Caucuses. A perennial statewide candidate (his 2010 primary challenge to now-Gov. Terry Branstad won a surprising 41% of the vote), Vander Plaats was co-chair of Mike Huckabee’s victorious 2008 Iowa Caucus campaign, and also spearheaded the successful 2010 effort to recall state Supreme Court judges who supported the 2009 decision legalizing same-sex marriage.
Kevin Hall of The Iowa Republican suggests that the “Vow” is a power-play by VanderPlaats to influence the outcome of the August 13 Iowa State GOP straw poll, in which The Family Leader has pledged neutrality, by separating candidates deemed acceptable from those who won’t sign the oath. And indeed, Michele Bachmann, rumored to be Vander Plaats’ current favorite, signed it virtually before the ink dried. What will really be interesting is whether Tim Pawlenty, who has been eagerly accepting every ideological demand made of him by the Right, signs this document. It is certainly designed to freak out the more secular-minded Establishment Republicans he will eventually need if he is to put together a winning coalition of everyone in the party who doesn’t like Mitt Romney. But he has to do well in Iowa for that to matter, so my guess is that he will follow Bachmann in kissing Vander Plaats’ ring and associating himself with a fresh batch of extremism.
By: Ed Kilgore, The Democratic Strategist, July 8, 2011