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Santorum on Birth Control
A President Santorum would not issue an executive order mandating cold showers.

Rick Santorum with his wife Karen

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Kathryn Jean Lopez

‘Rick Santorum is coming for your birth control,” warns Salon.

“Rick Santorum Favors Making Birth Control Illegal,” writes blogger Doug Mataconis

Picking up on those headlines, an Internet commenter (with at least some awareness of his own exaggerations) cautions: “All non-Catholics: Remember the St. Bartholomew’s Day massacre! Remember the revocation of the Edict of Nantes! Remember the countless thousands of barbarities perpetrated through the centuries by this cult. I wonder what penalties President Santorum will be proposing for citizens caught using birth control. The rack? The wheel? A good roasting at the stake?”

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The problem with the headlines is that they are untrue.

What Santorum has said is that the Supreme Court’s 1965 decision in Griswold v. Connecticut — which dealt with a case that was a Planned Parenthood official’s stunt — was a bad precedent and bad law. It created a constitutional right for married persons to use contraceptives. Writing for the majority, Justice William O. Douglas declared that ”specific guarantees in the Bill of Rights have penumbras, formed by emanations from those guarantees that help give them life and substance,” and that “various [of these] guarantees create zones of privacy.” That would be the basis for the Roe decision eight years later, which relied on a similar constitutional stretch.

Santorum’s is a perfectly sound opinion. Why is it such a threat that some feel the need to make his position into something much more than it is?

It has something to do with courage of conviction and public witness. In this age of overhyped faux tolerance, those who use the word tend to harbor an enthusiasm only for the tolerance of their own views. Rick Santorum is a threat because not only does he believe and live countercultural things, but he will talk about them and defend them publicly.

In particular, what fuels some of these Internet frenzies is that he told a blogger last October that, as president, he would talk about the “dangers of contraception.” But before you get worried that, if he’s elected, we’re in for a nationwide lecture, when he was pressed on what exactly this means, he made it expressly clear that he believes this is not an issue for the president to take on in any kind of legislation. Some of us were keen on hearing Barack Obama talk more about the crucial role of fatherhood as president of the United States, given that that is a natural extension of who he is. Unshockingly, President Santorum would be a friend to sex-ed programs that provide something other than condom handouts — programs that are not about pretending teens will never have sex if lectured to enough, but about giving them a Healthy Respect, as one program puts it, for themselves and others. And Santorum also would be who he is — which is not a policeman of your medicine cabinet but an alternative model.



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