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Santorum: Birth Control is Cheap and Should Not be Covered Santorum: Birth Control is Cheap and Should Not be Covered

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campaign 2012

Santorum: Birth Control is Cheap and Should Not be Covered

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Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum(AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

In comments guaranteed to become fodder in a general-election campaign, GOP presidential hopeful Rick Santorum clarified his opposition to women serving in combat roles by saying that men would be apt to lose sight of their mission because they would be preoccupied with protecting the women with them in a danger zone.

In an interview with CNN on Friday, Santorum also defended his opposition to requiring employers and insurers to cover contraception by asserting that birth control is “inexpensive” and therefore should not be subject to a government mandate -- a claim that, in the backdrop of a fall campaign, could be a target for liberal-leaning groups representing women of modest means or living in poverty.

 

Santorum was asked several wide-ranging questions in the interview, conducted after his appearance before a friendly audience at a meeting of the Conservative Political Action Committee. Asked about front-runner Mitt Romney’s charge that he abused the earmark process while in the Senate, Santorum said that Congress has “a specific authority to spend money” and that he was well within his powers to insist on funding such projects as the V-22 Osprey, an aircraft used by the Marines in both combat and rescue missions in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“There’s a whole bunch of things that Congress and the president disagree on, and sometimes Congress steps up and says ‘No, Mr. President, you will spend the money this way.’ I don’t think that’s necessarily wrong. In fact, I think that’s our duty,” said the former U.S. senator from Pennsylvania.

Elaborating on his comments made Thursday that women should be barred from combat roles, Santorum said that women can be useful in helping rescue the injured from the battlefield, but that they would be a distraction on the front lines. The issue, he said, is “the emotions of men in dealing with women in combat and not focusing on the mission, in protecting -- the natural instinct to protect someone who’s a female.… Look at the Israeli army, which is an army that has a lot of women in it, and a lot of women in very important positions -- but not in combat. There’s a reason for that. We have to look at mission effectiveness.”

 

Santorum also explained his opposition to the Obama administration’s decision to allow employers to opt out of covering contraception costs in health plans, although insurers would have to cover those costs.

“This is the federal government using the power of coercion to force an employer to pay for things that are morally objectionable to that employer,” he told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer. “We're not talking about a $10,000 procedure here. We're talking about something that is an inexpensive drug. And the idea that somehow the government even has to insure this … make(s) a mockery out of the issue of insurance.”

The cost of birth control, Santorum further argued, “is not going to threaten anybody’s financial stability.… This is a president trying to impose his values, rolling over religious liberty, and in the case of the [Catholic] archdiocese, rolling over the freedom of speech.”

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