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Rick Santorum’s War on Women

28/02/2012

I recently read a Huffington Post blog by Dan Kennedy that said President Obama has unofficially declared a War on Journalism, by utilizing the Espionage Act six times during his four-year presidency.

While I can understand parts of his point, and think use of the Espionage Act should be addressed, I think a more important political war needs to be addressed first: Rick Santorum’s War on Women.

Santorum, a current GOP candidate hopeful, has recently surged in the polls, much to the surprise of many Americans and members of the media. Some have attributed his rise in popularity to his unapologetic way of approaching and discussing his conservative beliefs and policies. Rick Santorum, a devout Catholic, has extremely conservative views about how things should be in the United States — and he is not afraid to share them.

Most of these views have to do with social issues: religious freedom (for Christians), global warming (doesn’t believe it), same-sex marriage and homosexuality (opposed) and intelligent design (“a legitimate scientific theory”). However, one of his more prevalent and controversial social views is his opposition to birth control and abortion.

Now, it’s become common to be relatively opposed to abortion and contraception if you’re in the conservative political ring: It’s a symbol of traditional values and a resistance to change. However, Santorum has taken his opposition to a whole new level. He is not only completely opposed to both contraception and abortion, he also makes it pretty clear that women will be the ones to pay the price.

Last October, Santorum was quoted on evangelical blog Caffeinated Thoughts as saying contraception is “not OK, because it’s a license to do things in the sexual realm that is counter to how things are supposed to be … They’re supposed to be within marriage, for purposes that are, yes, conjugal … but also procreative.”

Not only does his suggestion completely ostracize homosexuals from ever engaging in sexual behavior (because they should not be allowed to get married and therefore are only doing things “counter to how things are supposed to be”), but it also prevents women from taking control of their own sexuality.

According to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network, one out of every six American women has been the victim of “an attempted or completed rape in her lifetime.” As of now, the current statistic of American women who have been victims of attempted or completed rape is at 17.7 million. However, many organizations say the figure is likely closer to one in four women, if not higher, because some women do not report their attacks to authorities.

Rape, in any shape or form, is a disgusting practice that both men and women of the world should strive to remove from society. But since we do not live in Utopia, it still exists. Birth control is one way women can ensure that, should a rape tragically occur, a child will not be created as a result. However, Santorum considers contraception to be wrong, therefore making it easier for a woman to become pregnant as a result of rape.

So how would Rick Santorum feel about a woman who, after being given no choice in whether or not she can use birth control, becomes pregnant as a result of rape? The following response is from a recent televised CNN interview:

“As horrible as the way that that son or daughter and son was created, it still is her child. And whether she has that child or she doesn’t, it will always be her child, and she will always know that … And so to embrace her and to love her and to support her and get her through this very difficult time, I’ve always, you know, I believe and I think the right approach is to accept this horribly created — in the sense of rape — but nevertheless a gift in a very broken way, the gift of human life, and 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.”

“We have to make the best out of a bad situation.”

First of all, where is the we in his entire argument? The entire comment is about the woman’s responsibility to care for a child she had no consent in creating. It essentially pardons the man of guilt toward creating a life and instead places the shame and blame on the shoulders of the woman, who now has to deal with the awful circumstances of an awful situation. That is not making “the best of a bad situation.”

Second, Santorum’s entire viewpoint is outrageous. It renders women helpless to the sexual exploits of men, without any means of defending themselves. If Santorum were to suggest a nationwide campaign to find and prosecute rapists and make them financially care for the created child, maybe I wouldn’t be so furious. I’d still be mad, but at least my face wouldn’t be melting off.

According to Santorum, women should not be able to defend themselves against pregnancy via rape through contraception: In addition, he feels women should be responsible for the child created because she could not prevent the attack. It’s disrespectful, disgusting and completely sexist. It victimizes women twice, but still makes the problem somehow their fault for sexual practices outside of marriage.

Rick Santorum needs to realize that, no matter his personal viewpoints on “traditional values,” he is only a small percentage of the American population. According to the New York Times, 99% of women have used contraception at one point in their lives … including Catholic women. That’s 99% of the more than 50% majority of U.S. voters. If he wants to secure the vote, he’s going to have to raise the white flag on his War on Women and admit that his personal and overly eccentric moral code does not and cannot speak for the rest of the nation.

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