Patt Morrison for February 17, 2012

Birth control - election politics or another battle in the culture wars?

Santorum 2012

Eric Gay/AP

Supporter of Republican presidential candidate former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, Foster Friess, during a meet and greet campaign stop at Pizza Ranch, Monday, Jan. 2, 2012, in Altoona, Iowa.

Foster Friess, a major donor to a super PAC that backs Rick Santorum, made a controversial comment about birth control methods during an interview on MSNBC on Thursday, saying "Back in my days, they used Bayer aspirin for contraceptives. The gals put it between their knees, and it wasn't that costly."

The 71-year-old mutual fund millionaire from Wyoming apologized for the anachronistic and sexist joke in a statement on his website on Friday and Santorum has (publically, at least) distanced himself from one of his biggest financial backers, but the joke has caught Friess some widespread flak and brought attention to the role of super PACs in the current election. As for public sentiment, one poll shows that roughly 61 percent of Americans support the mandate that insurance companies should cover birth control in light of the Obama administration’s recent decision to wade into the contested issue of Catholics and contraception, and polls of Catholic voters are essentially in line with the national numbers. Santorum’s history on the issue is murky – he has publically maintained that, if elected, he will not let his religious beliefs about birth control affect his judgment, but he also stated in 2006 that birth control is “harmful to women.” After racking up some primary victories, Santorum’s campaign has gained momentum and he has found himself locked in a battle with Mitt Romney for the Republican base. The contraception issue is resonating on multiple levels as the election season heats up; two female Democrats protested a House hearing on contraception on Thursday by walking out because the panel was comprised of five men.

WEIGH IN:

As the economy improves are candidates turning to social issues to stake out territory with the electorate or are conservative candidates making an important stand for their beliefs? How will the debate on contraception continue to affect the election?

Guests:

Jess McIntosh, spokeswoman, Emily’s List

Arnold Steinberg, political strategist, analyst, a libertarian-conservative long associated with Republican campaigns


blog comments powered by Disqus