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Rick Santorum Confused About How Birth Control Works


Washington, DC --- GOP Presidential candidate Rick Santorum today made the extreme - and absurd - assertion that access to contraception does not prevent the need for abortion services, ignoring years of studies showing that access to contraception decreases the number of abortions and that birth control unequivocally reduces unintended pregnancy.

Q: “Do you have any concerns that cutbacks to Planned Parenthood would affect the birth control part of its offerings and inadvertently lead to an increase in abortions?”

Rick Santorum: “Well first off, I don’t think there’s any numbers out there that suggest that  access to contraception actually reduces the number of abortions. I think there’s pretty good studies out there, pretty compelling studies that show that there is no reall correlation and hasn’t been for quite some time.”


Statement from Dawn Laguens, Executive Vice President of Planned Parenthood:

“We can all breathe a sigh of relief that Rick Santorum isn’t teaching sex education classes, but we should be worried that someone who lacks a basic understanding of science, public policy and women’s bodies is making a play for the White House. Put simply, birth control prevents unintended pregnancies. It’s given women the ability to decide when and whether to have a family, and has been credited with having a transformative effect on women both economically and professionally. Not only that, but 90 percent of adults believe birth control is a responsible way to prevent pregnancy. Women and men don’t need someone like Santorum telling them how birth control works, especially when he doesn’t understand it himself.”


FACT: Birth control helps prevent pregnancy.

FACT: Contraception helps prevent unintended pregnancies, and reduces the rate of abortion.

New Republic: “Birth control doesn’t simply reduce unwanted pregnancies. It also reduces abortions. In the New England Journal study, the mean abortion rate among participants was less than one-fourth the rate for sexually active 14- to 19-year-old women nationally. That’s a pretty massive difference.”

The New York Times: “Over the past six years, Colorado has conducted one of the largest experiments with long-acting birth control….The birthrate among teenagers across the state plunged by 40 percent from 2009 to 2013, while their rate of abortions fell by 42 percent, according to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.”

Family planning services available through Medicaid and Title X of the U.S. Public Health Service Act help women prevent 2.2 million unintended pregnancies each year. Without these family planning services, the numbers of unintended pregnancies and abortions would be nearly two-thirds higher than they are now.

FACT: There are numerous studies that show a decline in abortion rates associated with  access to contraception. The rate of teenage pregnancy in the United States has also declinedto its lowest level in 40 years.

New England Journal of Medicine, "Provision of No-Cost, Long-Acting Contraception and Teenage Pregnancy":  “We found that pregnancy, birth, and abortion rates were low among teenage girls and women enrolled in a project that removed financial and access barriers to contraception and informed them about the particular efficacy of LARC methods.”

Guttmacher Institute, "What Is Behind the Declines in Teen Pregnancy Rates?": An analysis of data from the National Survey of Family Growth (NSFG), the major source of government data on population and reproductive health, found that contraception accounts for 86 percent of the recent decline in teenage pregnancy.

Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, "Access to Free Birth Control Reduces Abortion Rates": A study by investigators at Washington University reports that providing birth control to women at no cost substantially reduces unplanned pregnancies and cuts abortion rates by a range of 62 to 78 percent compared to the national rate.

FACT: Contraception is used broadly as a means of preventing unintended pregnancy.

Ninety percent of adults believe that using birth control is the responsible way to prevent pregnancy. [The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, September 2014]

Seventy-eight percent of adults including 70 percent of Republicans believe that those who oppose abortion should strongly support birth control. [The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, September 2014]

Seventy-three percent of Republicans believe that that family planning services, including birth control and contraceptives, are "important" to basic preventative health care services. [Huffington Post, 8/30/11]

Fifty-eight percent of young Republicans believe that every woman should have access to affordable, effective birth control because it is cheaper to pay to prevent an unplanned pregnancy than to pay for the consequences of one. [The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy:Young Republicans, Birth Control and Public Policy, March 2015]

Two-thirds of young Republicans say that, “every adult woman should have access to affordable, effective birth control because it gives people a chance to build families on their own terms.”  [The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy: Young Republicans, Birth Control and Public Policy, March 2015]

FACT: Rick Santorum has a history of holding extreme positions on birth control.

Has Said That He Thinks Birth Control “Doesn’t Work” And is “Harmful”:  In a 2005 interview, when asked about his position on birth control Rick Santorum said, “I don't think it works. I think it's harmful to women. I think it's harmful to our society to have a society that says that sex outside of marriage is something that should be encouraged or tolerated." [YouTube, 8/27/06]

Believes States Have the Right to Ban Birth Control: Asked whether states should be allowed to ban birth control, Santorum responded, “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.” [ThinkProgress, 1/3/12]

Has Referred to The ‘Dangers of Contraception’: "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.... Many in the Christian faith have said, "Well, that's okay, contraception is okay." 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."  [ThinkProgress, 1/3/12]