Matt C. Abbott
February 29, 2012
Pro-life internist likes Santorum, but pleads for consistency on Title X
By Matt C. Abbott

Chris Kahlenborn, M.D., respected internist and founder/president of The Polycarp Research Institute, writes (slightly edited):
    I like Rick Santorum a lot. I like his family values. I like his persistence. And I love his love for unborn children, especially those with genetic problems. However, I do have a problem with his inconsistency regarding Title X funding.

    Mr. Santorum has publicly stated that he believes contraception harms women and families; and that Plan B may act as an abortifacient. He has also stated that he supported, and still supports, Title X funding to family planning agencies that supply both oral contraceptives and Plan B to their clientele.

    In regard to contraception and Plan B, Mr. Santorum may have a better command of the medical literature than people give him credit for. Consider the following: In 2005, the World Health Organization classified oral contraceptives as a Group I carcinogen — the most dangerous type of classification known.

    Thereafter, I and three colleagues published the most meta-analysis to date regarding early oral contraceptive use and breast cancer in the October 2006 Mayo Clinic Proceedings. We noted that 21 out of 23 studies found positive links to breast cancer, which came to a 44 percent increased cumulative risk (significant at the 99 percent confidence interval).

    In regard to Plan B, the 2010 Physician's Desk Reference notes that it 'may inhibit implantation by altering the endometrium.' In addition, Croxatto et al noted that Plan B only fully stops ovulation 12 percent of the time when given within two days of ovulation (Contraception, 2004: 442-450), again supporting an abortifacient method of action.

    Mr. Santorum's inconsistency regarding his statements on Plan B and contraception are rivaled only by his inconsistency regarding his statements on Title X funding. Consider how confusing his recent words have been: 'I support Title X, I guess it is, and have voted for contraception and although I don't think it works, I think it's harmful to women, I think it's harmful to our society.'

    How can he rightly cite the dangers of hormonal contraception and the abortifacient action of Plan B, yet continue to justify spending for Title X funding, which grants over $300 million to family planning agencies that dispense contraception and Plan B? In addition, Planned Parenthood receives about $70 million from Title X funding annually.

    Both Mr. Romney and Mr. Paul, and the audience, picked up on Mr. Santorum's inconsistency in the Feb. 22 CNN-sponsored debate. Mr. Santorum was booed when he tried to justify his record on Title X — and he deserved it. Of note: Prior to this blunder, he was running more than 10 points ahead of Mr. Romney in Michigan; his lead evaporated after the debate and he went on to lose the state.

    Should Mr. Santorum survive the primaries, President Obama — a master of taking advantage of his opponents' weaknesses — will have little trouble exploiting Mr. Santorum's stance.

    Mr. Santorum has precedent to follow. In 2010, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie cut family planning funding citing budget concerns, noting: 'I don't believe that is a priority in a budget where you have to cut $11 billion. I believe that women have the opportunity to access health care all across New Jersey. Family planning has nothing to do with mammograms, and don't put the two of them together.'

    Mr. Santorum could justify defunding Title X with the same secular argument. After all, how many of us Americans really want to pay $300 million annually of our money for other people's contraceptives when we as a nation are $15 trillion in debt?

    Mr. Santorum has the strongest and clearest conservative record of all the Republican nominees, and uses the word 'courage' to describe himself. His strength has always been his great leadership in family and moral matters.

    Our nation's moral fabric has deteriorated rapidly over the past five decades, and this election will be a referendum not only on the economy, but perhaps even more so on the direction of our moral fabric.

    Mr. Santorum is in a unique position to fill that void: Now he must embrace and articulate his vision without compromise or inconsistency. A clear statement on the elimination of Title X funding would be a most courageous and consistent step for the next potential President of the United States.
© Matt C. Abbott

 

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Matt C. Abbott

Matt C. Abbott is a Catholic commentator with a Bachelor of Arts degree in communication, media and theatre from Northeastern Illinois University. He's been interviewed on MSNBC, NPR, WLS-TV (ABC) in Chicago, WMTV (NBC) in Madison, Wis., and has been quoted in The New York Times and the Chicago Tribune. He can be reached at mattcabbott@gmail.com.


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