During last night’s debate, Rick Santorum said, “As Congressman Paul knows, I opposed Title X funding. I’ve always opposed Title X funding, but it’s included in a large appropriation bill that includes a whole host of other things.”
Is that true? In 1995, Santorum did sign onto welfare reform legislation introduced by Phil Gramm in 1995 that would have axed Title X funding. “Expand grants to states for adoption services, and offset the cost by termination of Title X of Public Health Act,” was a provision in the legislation, according to a press release from Santorum’s office.
And in 1999, Santorum introduced legislation in the senate to give $85 million a year to crisis pregnancy centers and other organizations that helped pregnant women. “Supporters of the existing federal family program, Title X of the Public Health Service Act, noted that while that law requires federal grantees to counsel women with unintended pregnancies on all their options, grantees under the new program would be barred from providing counseling on abortion or contraception,” reported Reuters at the time.
But as far as directly speaking out against Title X funding, Santorum seems to have been publicly mum. His campaign did not respond to a request for examples of past statements he had made opposing the program.
As Santorum said, he did back Title XX, which funded abstinence education. “What I did, because Title X was always pushed through, I did something that no one else did. Congressman Paul didn’t. I said, well, if you’re going to have Title X funding, then we’re going to create something called Title XX, which is going to provide funding for abstinence-based programs, so at least we’ll have an opportunity to provide programs that actually work in — in keeping children from being sexually active instead of facilitating children from being sexually active,” Santorum argued. But looking through old news stories, I couldn’t find any statement from Santorum explicitly stating that he was promoting Title XX as a counter-measure to Title X.
During the debate, Romney charged that Santorum had touted his support for Title X in recent days:
I just saw a YouTube clip of you being interviewed where you said that you personally opposed contraceptives but that you — you said that you voted for Title X. You… But you used that as an argument, saying this is something I did proactively. You didn’t say this is something I was opposed to; it wasn’t something I would have done. You said this — you said this in a positive light, ‘I voted for Title X.’
It’s not clear which interview Romney is referring to, but Santorum has been citing his votes for Title X in recent days in order to argue that his personal stance against contraception doesn’t mean he would act to ban or block contraception as president, something he faced another round of questions about after Foster Friess’ aspirin joke. In a Fox News interview, Santorum does not say he opposes Title X funding after mentioning he voted for it. From his interview with Greta Van Susteren:
SANTORUM: Well, good. I — you know, just look at my record. I mean, I have been criticized by — by — I think it was Governor Romney or maybe it was Congressman Paul’s campaign for voting for contraception, that I voted for funding for it, which is — I think it’s — I think it’s Title 10, which is — which I have voted for in the past, that provides for free contraception through organizations, even like Planned Parenthood.
And so, you know, it’s funny that on the conservative side, I’m getting ripped for having voted for this. And now all of a sudden, the left is trying to make me out that somehow I — you know, I want to stop women, or men for that matter, from getting — you know, doing things and taking things for contraception.
Earlier in the interview, Santorum said, “I’ve had a consistent record on this of supporting women’s right to have contraception. I’ve supported funding for it.” In 2006, Santorum struck much the same note, saying that “from a governmental point of view I support Title X, I guess it is, and have voted for contraception, although I don’t think it works. I think it’s harmful to women.”
On his website, Santorum does not say he will work to eliminate Title X funding, although he does want some changes made:
Repeal Clinton-era Title X family planning regulations, and will direct HHS to restore the separation of Title X family planning from abortion practices and restore a ban on referrals for abortion