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Rick Santorum's Views on Women's Issues: Santorum on Women in His Own Words

Republican Presidential Candidate's Positions Alienate Women Voters


Updated February 28, 2012
One of the biggest surprises of the GOP primary season has been the rise of Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum. The former senator from Pennsylvania has always been regarded as deeply religious and conservative. But a slew of controversial remarks Santorum has made about hotly-debated topics -- many of them essential aspects of women's lives -- have resulted in a gender divide among his supporters. Women voters have been turning away from Rick Santorum because of his positions on a number of critical women's issues.

Below is a round-up of Rick Santorum's views on women's issues in his own words.

Santorum believes that abortion should be illegal regardless of circumstances and would make no exception for rape or incest. A January 2012 CNN interview with Piers Morgan reveals the intensity of his conviction. Describing a hypothetical situation in which Santorum's daughter was raped, became pregnant and begged her father for an abortion, Morgan asked if he'd really deny her that choice as a father. Below are excerpts of Santorum's response:

As horrible as the way that that son or daughter and son was created, it still is her child....I think the right approach is to accept this horribly created — in the sense of rape — but nevertheless a gift in a very broken way, the gift of human life, and accept what God has given to you....we have to make the best out of a bad situation.

Santorum is opposed to contraception and health care reform mandated contraceptive coverage based on his religious beliefs that there should be no sex outside marriage and that sex is for procreation. Author Charles P. Pierce, who blogs about politics at Esquire.com, cites statements made by Santorum on contraception and gleaned from a recent interview with CaffeinatedThoughts.com:

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. 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....

[Sex] is supposed to be within marriage. It's supposed to be for purposes that are yes, conjugal… but also procreative. That's the perfect way that a sexual union should happen…. This is special and it needs to be seen as special.

In addition, Santorum has previously stated that such sexual freedom has led to "the debasement of women, mental illness, and an epidemic of sexually transmitted diseases, causing infertility cancer, even death."

Prenatal testing
Santorum opposes the inclusion of prenatal testing in insurance coverage as mandated by health care reform, saying:

[A] lot of prenatal tests are done to identify deformities in-- in utero and the customary procedure is to encourage abortions.

Appearing on CBS's Face the Nation in February 2012, Santorum told host Bob Schieffer:

...[It] is done for the purposes of identifying maladies of a child in the womb....which in many cases...particularly if there's a problem, [physicians] recommend abortion. We know....that ninety percent of Down syndrome children in America are aborted.

As the father of a daughter with trisomy 18, Santorum stated that during pregnancy his wife had a sonogram which identified the genetic disorder; the doctor recommended an abortion but the couple refused. Santorum's position on prenatal testing is consistent with his strongly anti-abortion views.

Women in the Military
Santorum does not want to see women on the front lines of combat (although they are technically already serving there) and opposes the recent Pentagon ruling allowing women to serve in battalions, thus opening up thousands of new jobs for female service personnel. In an interview with CNN's John King, Santorum stated:

I do have concerns about women in frontline combat. I think that can be a very compromising situation where — where people naturally may do things that may not be in the interests of the mission because of other types of emotions that are involved.
Later, to clarify that this was not a reference to the stereotype of once-a-month female emotional instability, he told NBC's Ann Curry:
I think men have emotions when you see a woman in harm’s way...it’s something that’s natural that’s very much in our culture to be protective. That was my concern, and I think that’s a concern with all the military.

Working Women
Rick Santorum acknowledges that both his parents worked when he was a child and that his mother earned more than his father. Yet he has criticized the notion of working women with professional careers outside the home. In his first book published in July 2005, It Takes a Family: Conservatism and the Common Good, he blames the rise of women's rights as "undermining the traditional family." Santorum's own words according to the Pittsburg Post-Gazette:

What happened in America so that mothers and fathers who leave their children in the care of someone else -- or worse yet, home alone after school between three and six in the afternoon -- find themselves more affirmed by society? Here, we can thank the influence of radical feminism....

Sadly the propaganda campaign launched in the 1960s has taken root....The radical feminists succeeded in undermining the traditional family and convincing women that professional accomplishments are the key to happiness.

When pressed by George Stephanopolis on the ABC News show This Week about these comments, Santorum responded, "Well, that section of the book was co-written, if you want to be honest about it, by my wife, who is a nurse and a lawyer," as well as a woman who gave up her practice of both to raise the couple's 7 children.

Armbruster, Ben. "Santorum Has ‘Concerns’ About Women In Combat Because Of ‘Emotions That Are Involved.’"ThinkProgress.org. 10 February 2012.
"CBS 'Face the Nation' Transcript." Votesmart.org. 19 February 2012.
Haberman, Maggie. "Santorum on family book: Wife wrote section on working women." Politico.com. 12 February 2012.
Pierce, Charles P. "Rick Santorum And The Conservative War Against Women." The Politics Blog at Esquire.com. 20 January 2011.
Pierce, Charles P. "Santorum's War Against Women, Continued." The Politics Blog at Esquire.com. 3 January 2012.
Reston, Maeve. Santorum's book urges more moms to stay home." Pittsburgh Post-Gazette at Post-Gazette.com. 6 July 2005.
"Rick Santorum On Opposition To Abortion In Cases Of Rape: 'Make The Best Out Of A Bad Situation.'" HuffingtonPost.com. 23 January 2012.
Somanador, Tanya. "Santorum to Rape Victims: 'Make The Best Out Of A Bad Situation." ThinkProgress.org. 23 January 2012.
Stump, Scott. "Santorum: Women in combat could compromise missions." Today.msnbc.msn.com. 10 February 2012.

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