Do Iowans Use Birth Control?

Rick Santorum

Rick Santorum

While former governor Mitt Romney was the technical winner in Iowa last night, Rick Santorum was the real winner, trailing Romney by only eight votes. What do we know about the man that has positioned himself well in the GOP race for the presidential nomination?

We know, of course, the former Senator and Congressman from Pennsylvania opposes a woman’s right to choose. According to NARAL Pro-Choice America, Santorum cast 27 anti-choice votes in the House. And as a Senator he  authored the Federal Abortion Ban, a law that criminalizes some abortion services.

But Santorum’s pro-life stance seems to go beyond the standard conservative messages about protecting the unborn. Santorum is also opposed to contraception. Of birth control he has 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. 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.” He defined those “things” in an interview a few years back (video clip below). He’s referring to sex outside of marriage.

According to Santorum, birth control is harmful to women and society. “The pill made it possible for women to walk through doors that had once been closed to them,” author Elaine Tyler May told Hannah Seligson in an interview for Forbes last year. Wrote Seligson, “That was certainly the case for Gloria Feldt, 68, the former CEO of Planned Parenthood…As someone who had three children by the time she was 20, ‘the pill literally saved my life,’ says Feldt. ‘Without the pill, I would have had one or two more. It enabled me to purposefully have a life that I designed. It allowed me to start college and begin a career.’” Is Santorum trying to protect us, his family values, and the society in which he wants to live, from the threats of women leading lives outside their homes? Clearly he’s not concerned about unintended pregnancies and the spread of sexually transmitted diseases which contraception helps prevent.

Luckily, most don’t think Santorum can go all the way in the election. Conor Friedersdorf at The Atlantic writes, “Santorum’s position on contraception is so extreme that it’d likely cost him even if only Catholics showed up to vote for the general election.”

So we know a little bit more about Rick Santorum. But I want to know about the 30,000 Iowans  who voted for him. Research from the Guttamacher Institute reports more than 99 percent of women aged 15–44 who have had sexual intercourse have used at least one contraceptive method. Are the Santorum supporters the less than one percent?

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Photo by Gage Skidmore used with Creative Commons license.

 

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