Sometimes, it’s difficult to get a real sense of how candidates feel about certain issues, because they don’t want to scare away potential voters. Rick Santorum, on the other hand, has made his views on women very clear. I give you, then, Rick Santorum’s Bill of Rights for Women. Please note that while the titles are mine, all of the quotes are straight from Santorum’s lips.
1. You have the right to bear many children, whether you want to or not:
One of the things I will talk about that no president has talked about before is 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…I’m not running for preacher, I’m not running for pastor, but these are important public policy issues.
Note: whatever your thoughts on women’s reproductive freedom, it’s difficult to imagine even the most hard-line conservative taking issue with a woman’s right to use contraception. Santorum isn’t talking about whether contraception should be covered by health insurance; he’s talking about whether birth control should be practiced at all. He thinks it shouldn’t be. See 17:50 in this video. Combine this with his publicly stated conviction that 1)politicians should absolutely allow their personal beliefs to influence policy, and 2) states have the right to outlaw contraception (#10), and you are left with a candidate who poses a grave threat to women’s basic rights.
2. You have a right to assume the missionary position:
When asked if adults have the right to consensual sex in their homes, Santorum replied:
If the Supreme Court says that you have the right to consensual sex within your home, then you have the right to bigamy, you have the right to polygamy, you have the right to incest, you have the right to adultery. You have the right to anything. Does that undermine the fabric of our society? I would argue yes, it does.
Soon available in stores, Rick Santorum’s Guide to Marital Sex: The No-Female-Orgasm Required Method for Baby-Making. Chapter 1: Foreplay Is Sin. Chapter 2: Don’t Do That Thing You Do With Your Tongue. Chapter 3: No, No, I’m Supposed to Be on Top. Chapter 4: How Can It Be Wrong When It Feels So Boring.
3. You have a right to help me overturn Roe v. Wade.
Monday marks the first full day of the 40th year of Roe v. Wade, but together we can make it the decade when Roe is overturned…Whenever I am confronted with an immoral law that is unjust or harmful to society, I believe I have an obligation to work toward changing it to comport with what is moral. (from Santorum’s Jan. 23 editorial in the Wall Street Journal.)
Santorum seems to see no conflict between his desire to deny women the right to terminate a pregnancy, and his and his wife Karen’s admission that if an infection hadn’t induced labor at 19 weeks in 1996, effectively aborting her fetus, she would have made the decision to do so in order to save her own life. As it turned out, they didn’t have to make that decision. But Santorum said abortion would have been an “easy call” if nature hadn’t made the choice for them.
From the Philadelphia Inquirer on May 4, 1997:
If that had to be the call, we would have induced labor if we had to…Obviously, if it was a choice of whether both Karen and the child are going to die or just the child is going to die, I mean it’s a pretty easy call.
His wife, who has lobbied along with her husband against abortion, agreed that in her case, abortion would have been justified:
If the physician came to me and said if we don’t deliver your baby in one hour you will be dead, yeah, I would have to do it.
Mystifyingly, Karen Santorum described her experience in an article in the October 1997 issue of Family Circle–an article which came out strongly against late-term abortion under any circumstances. Their god apparently likes them better than he likes other folks, and has handed down to them a different set of rules. If you ask nicely, they might show you the stone tablet.
4. You have the right to bear your rapist’s child:
I believe and I think the right approach is to accept…what God has given to you. As you know, we have to, in lots of different aspects of our life. We have horrible things happen. I can’t think of anything more horrible. But, nevertheless, we have to make the best out of a bad situation.
Pressed by Piers Morgan on how he would counsel his own daughter if she were raped and came to him begging to have an abortion, Santorum said that he would counsel her to accept this “gift from God.”
5. You have a right to stay out of the men’s way in combat:
I have concerns about women in front-line combat. I think that could be a very compromising situation, where people naturally may do things that may not be in the interest of the mission because of other types of emotions that are involved. It already happens, of course, with the camaraderie of men in combat, but I think it would be even more unique if women were in combat. And I think that’s not in the best interests of men, women, or the mission.
6. You have the right to upload your thoughts to this here thought police machine I’ve just patented, so I can make sure your passions are appropriate.
The idea is that the state doesn’t have rights to limit individuals’ wants and passions. I disagree with that. I think we absolutely have rights because there are consequences to letting people live out whatever wants or passions they desire.
In the same interview, Santorum argues that sexual deviance is a direct result of the liberal “right to privacy” lifestyle.
It all comes from, I would argue, this right to privacy that doesn’t exist in my opinion in the United States Constitution, this right that was created, it was created in Griswold (see #9) — Griswold was the contraceptive case — and abortion. And now we’re just extending it out. And the further you extend it out, the more you — this freedom actually intervenes and affects the family.
7. You have a right to stay home and do your husband’s laundry and home school all seven of your children, while your husband goes out and pursues his goals.
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.
8. You have the right to name your baby’s father, or else.
What we say is that in order for Mom to be able to go on welfare if she has a child out of wedlock, you have to tell us who the father is. If you don’t tell us who the father is, you’re not eligible for any welfare benefits, none, not even medical care. You tell us who the father is or you don’t receive benefits.
Santorum doesn’t apparently see the irony in simultaneously lobbying against contraception and unwed mothers.
9. You have the right to keep your mouth off Mr. Happy.
(see #2 and #6)
That’s right. If Mr. Santorum has his way, fellatio could be illegal in your state, right alongside sodomy, French kissing, sexy massage at home, and foot fetishes. See #9
10. You have the right to allow the government to criminalize birth control.
The state has a right to do that, I have never questioned that the state has a right to do that. It is not a constitutional right, the state has the right to pass whatever statues they have. That is the thing I have said about the activism of the Supreme Court, they are creating rights, and they should be left up to the people to decide.
Here, Santorum is responding to a question by Jake Topper of ABC. Topper asks about Santorum’s opposition to the 1965 Griswold ruling, in which the Supreme Court held that there is a “right to marital privacy,” overturning an 1879 Connecticut law banning contraceptives. In the interview, Santorum states that he would not personally have voted for the law banning contraceptives, but that it was within states’ rights to do so. One wonders, however, how forthright he is being, considering how deeply and publicly opposed he is to the use of contraception.
Wait a minute. Remember when candidates on the right used to speak out against abortion and gay marriage in order to win votes? (Remember when this backfired?) And yet, the candidates of 2008 looked downright progressive in comparison to Santorum. He doesn’t just want to turn the clock back to a time before Roe V. Wade. He wants to turn the clock back to a time before 1916, when Margaret Sanger opened the first birth control clinic in America. Before opening the clinic, Sanger fled the US to avoid going to trial for advocating birth control.
Note to guys who think you’d get off easy under a Santorum administration, be advised that Santorum believes that the government should be able to dictate exactly how you get off. Santorum claims a state should be able to outlaw any sexual acts the state deems inappropriate. Imagine a world in which fellatio is punishable by law.
Got your attention?
Now, guys, imagine a world in which your state can prevent you and your girlfriend or wife from practicing birth control. That means, unless you practice abstinence, the rhythm method, or withdrawal, you could start having children (and being financially responsible for them) the moment you become sexually active, and you could keep producing children (and being financially responsible for them) until your sperm won’t swim. It would be difficult to imagine a more disastrous economic policy.
Remember The Handmaid’s Tale? Remember Big Brother? I can’t figure out if Santorum actually believes this stuff, or if he’s just talked himself down the rabbit hole and can’t figure out how to climb out of it. (Not that he’s into that.) It isn’t surprising to see a madman running for political office. What is baffling is that he has gained so much support.
Even my own mother, a preacher’s daughter from rural Mississippi who is conservative to the core, wouldn’t have dreamed of allowing anyone to tell her she couldn’t use contraception. For one thing, as a working woman who struggled to keep us fed and clothed, she understood how much labor it took for parents to financially support three children. For another, despite the fact that she identified deeply with the evangelicals, when our pastor talked about women as “helpmeets” for their husbands and claimed that men held the ultimate power of decision-making in the household, she nearly fell out of her seat laughing. This, it turns out, is a fairly common reaction among many Southern evangelical women, who tend to believe the Bible is God’s infallible word, except those parts about how the man is in charge.
But this, I suppose, is where things get confusing. Despite Santorum’s blatantly anti-woman, anti-family, and anti-personal-rights policies, many otherwise thoughtful women have cast their ballots for Rick Santorum, and will continue to do so, because he is positioning himself as the socially conservative Christian candidate. Somehow, pulpits and politics have become so alarmingly intertwined, many churchgoing people simply accept the church’s stance on candidates, despite all rational arguments to the contrary. There’s a huge gap, however, between Santorum’s social conservatism and his belief in unheard-of government powers to dictate what we do in the bedroom and beyond. When it comes to political decisions that impact their lives in a very personal way, conservative women–and men–need to stand up and listen not to their pastors and priests, but to their own hearts, and, more importantly, their minds. God gave you a brain; its a crime not to use it.