Santorum Fails Prenatal Testing

Rick Santorum is at it again. The presidential candidate, who already thinks that birth control is “harmful to women” and believes states should have the right to ban birth control, now has his sights set on … prenatal testing. During an interview on Face the Nation, Santorum criticized President Obama’s healthcare law for requiring insurance companies to cover specific prenatal tests. According to Santorum, since some tests are used to detect genetic abnormalities, they can “encourage” abortions. Therefore, his logic follows, having insurance companies cover the costs of these tests “is a bit loaded.” While Santorum singled out amniocenteses as a test that insurance shouldn’t cover, he said he had no problem with sonograms – even though it is possible for those images to show birth defects or other abnormalities. But I’m guessing in Santorum-land, sonograms are only important when forced on women that want abortions – or trying to make his stance on women’s health issues seem less batshit crazy than it actually is. Implying that prenatal testing is some sort of gateway drug to abortion procedures is, frankly, ludicrous. According a survey conducted of over 1,200 women that chose abortion, the top reasons for the decision were: concern for/responsibility to others; inability to afford a child; concern that having a child would interfere with school, work, or their ability to take care of dependents; or having problems with their partner or spouse, or not wanting to be a single parent. “Possible problems affecting the health of the fetus” fell far down the list of reasons that these women gave for having an abortion. Much like his opposition to birth control, this latest stance seems to be much more about Rick Santorum than about what’s best for women and families. Prenatal testing provides information, plain and simple – information that women, and their partners and doctors and whoever else the woman may choose to involve – can then use to make the best decision for themselves, their fetus, and their families. For some women, the choice will be to terminate – but not for every woman. And for parents that choose to continue a pregnancy where there are specific problems, prenatal testing gives those parents the time to prepare themselves for the unique challenges they and their child will face. But Santorum doesn’t appear to be interested in research, or giving women information, or even what’s best for families that aren’t his. This is just Santorum’s latest attempt to demonize abortion and anything that can be tied to pregnancy termination, no matter how tenuous the threads. If insurance companies no longer covered testing, expectant mothers that can afford it will still have access. But those that don’t have the means may end up with otherwise avoidable complications that put them or their newborn in serious harm. To even suggest that women and their families should be put in that position is infuriating, and illustrates just how little Rick Santorum trusts women to make their own choices. This piece originally appeared on Feminists for Choice, and is cross-posted with permission.