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Santorum and His Case Against Contraception

Now that he’s surging in the polls, Rick Santorum’s words are being scrutinized not just by his political opponents but also by members of the press. For example, Michael Scherer of Time magazine highlights this October 2011 quote from Santorum:

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, 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. They’re supposed to be within marriage, they are supposed to be for purposes that are, yes, conjugal, but also 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.

Again, I know most presidents don’t talk about those things, and maybe people don’t want us to talk about those things, but I think it’s important that you are who you are. I’m not running for preacher. I’m not running for pastor, but these are important public policy issues. These have profound impact on the health of our society.

The problem here isn’t so much Santorum’s religious views on contraception, which are consistent with the teachings of the Catholic Church. It is that Santorum said as president he would make the moral and utilitarian case against contraception because he believes it’s having a profoundly negative impact on the health of our society.

I disagree with Santorum’s theology, and it’s certainly not clear to me how contraception among married couples is undermining American society. But Senator Santorum obviously believes deeply in this issue, and he’s made it clear it’s something he wants to talk about and thinks we should talk about. In October 2011, Santorum was making the discussion about contraception evidence of political courage, which means it won’t be easy for him in February 2012 to avoid the subject or brush it off as a distraction or a liberal “gotcha” question. After all, it’s important that you are who you are.

Rick Santorum now has his chance to make his case for contraception in Michigan, Arizona, and elsewhere. We’ll see how he does.

 


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