While he seeks to emphasize his coal miner grandpa and industrial tax policy in the fight for Michigan and the Midwest, Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum is finding it hard to avoid the social issues that have defined his career as one of the nation’s most prominent conservative cultural warriors.
On CBS’ Face the Nation Sunday, Santorum criticized President Obama’s health-care law for requiring health insurance plans to cover prenatal tests that are used to detect fetal abnormalities and thus “encourage abortion.” He has expressed the same idea in recent campaign appearances.
“The bottom line is that a lot of prenatal tests are done to identify deformities in utero and the customary procedure is to encourage abortions,” Santorum told host Bob Schieffer. He said he was referring specifically to amniocentesis, in which fluid from the amniotic sac is drawn to test chromosomes for birth defects.
“Amniocentesis does, in fact, result more often than not in this country in abortions,” Santorum said. “That is a fact.”
Americans should have the right to have the the prenatal testing done, he said. “but to have the government force people to provide it free, to me, is a bit loaded.” The former Pennsylvania, author of a federal ban on late term abortions, told Schieffer that he believes some forms of prenatal testing should be provided free, including sonograms, as well as general prenatal care.
Santorum and his wife, Karen, have a 3-year-old daughter Bella, with the genetic disorder Trisomy 18.
In response to a question about whether Obama “looks down” on the disabled, Santorum cited the president’s support for access to legal late-term abortions.
“Well, the president supported partial-birth abortion, and partial-birth abortion is a procedure used almost exclusively to kill children late in pregnancy when they’ve been found out to be disabled,” Santorum said.
He added: “The president has a very bad record on the issue of abortion and children who are disabled who are in the womb. I think this simply is a continuation of that idea.”
On the show, Santorum also clarified remarks he had made Saturday during a Christian conservative conference in Ohio, where he said that Obama’s policies were based on a “phony theology, a theology not found in the Bible.”
Obama adviser Robert Gibbs said that Santorum had “stepped over the line” in criticizing the president’s religious faith.
On Sunday, Santorum said he accepts that Obama is a Christian, and his remarks were meant to refer to what he said was the president’s secularized policies and support for “extreme environmentalism,” in which the earth is “elevated” over mankind.