Rick Santorum’s Really Scary Birth Control Stance

By Jill F @AlterNet

Rick Santorum doesn’t actually want to take away your birth control! Hahaha.

Silly ladies, thinking that when he said “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,” it meant he opposed birth control access.

Even sillier ladies, thinking that when he said Griswold v. Connecticut (the Supreme Court case striking down state laws prohibiting birth control) was decided wrongly, he meant that states should have the right to outlaw birth control.

SILLY SILLY LADIES. If I knew how to underline that phrase with a splashy slash of lipstick, I would.

Santorum came under fire for the birth control comments, and is now saying that his opposition to birth control is only a personal belief, and not one he’d impose on anyone.

Ok fine. I could live with that. If Rick Santorum is going to exercise his right not to take the pill, fantastic for him. He’s in good company with most men on the planet there.

But (a) I’m pretty sure that he does impose that view on his wife, and (b) conservative politicians like Rick Santorum have a nasty habit of imposing their “personal beliefs” on everyone else.

Santorum, for example, opposes federal funding for family planning, even though he obviously does not oppose federal funding generally. So his “personal beliefs that I won’t impose on anyone” are, actually, sometimes imposed on people.

And then:

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.”

Welcome to Disingenuous Central.

“Contraception has nothing to do with it”? Sure. Santorum just picked that case of out thin air. I’m sure he was going through the list of cases where the court evaluated state law and was like, “Hmmm, Brown v. Board of EdLoving v. VirginiaEngle v. Vitale, Cohen v. CaliforniaMarsh v. AlabamaNAACP v. ButtonStanley v. GeorgiaGonzalez v. Raich… Oh I just like the sound of the name Griswold, let’s go with that.”

Santorum referenced Griswold because it’s a dog-whistle to his virulently anti-choice base. Most reasonable people and legal scholars agree that Griswold is pretty well-settled law — it’s not a case like Roe that is always up for debate in Supreme Court nomination processes, and it’s not a name that means anything except to pro-life and pro-choice activists.

Naming Griswold specifically was Santorum throwing a bone to the radical anti-choicers who do want to see birth control outlawed, and who have been taking steps to do just that. It was him saying, “I’m with you,” just loudly enough so that the anti-choice inner circle could hear, but not so obviously that the rest of mainstream American caught on.

Do I think that if Santorum is elected president he’ll try to outlaw birth control? No. Of course not. That’s not going to happen, and that’s not what anyone is actually worried about.

What we are worried about are the efforts on the state level to outlaw birth control, and the kinds of federal judges that President Santorum — a phrase that makes me feel slightly ill — would appoint, to the Supreme Court and other federal courts.

Supreme Court nominees get a lot of press and attention, but the real power comes in through all of the lower federal appointments that presidents make to courts that decide many more cases than the Supreme Court. And if we have a president who not only believes that states have the right to pass laws which violate the federal constitution, but specifically focuses on cases that relate to reproductive rights and gender equality? You can bet he’s going to seek out judges with those same beliefs.

Despite the claims of WaPo lady-blogger Melinda Henneberger [insert lipstick slash here], we are not actually scared that Rick Santorum is going to set our diaphragms on fire or snatch the rings out of our vaginas. We are, however, concerned that he will stack the courts with anti-choice judges, and will back state efforts to limit or outlaw birth control.

If Melinda Henneberger isn’t concerned about that, good for her — but I would suggest maybe that’s not because of Santorum’s actual stances, but because she’s asking the wrong questions and not paying attention.


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