Romney is not sure we have a right to contraception, doesn’t understand the big deal anyway

Given that Romney is supposedly the moderate, reasonable Republican alternative to the extremism of Santorum, you’d think he’d want to draw the contrast a bit more clearly than he does in this clip from the New Hampshire debate. When asked if he, like Santorum, believes states have the right to ban contraception, Romney acted like he was positively offended that he should have to answer such a silly, irrelevant question.

The faux confusion is cute, isn’t it? Gee golly, I can’t imagine why a state would want to ban contraception. Me neither. I just know that several have considered Personhood amendments that would do just that. (If Romney isn’t familiar with them, he should read up–they are kind of a big deal these days.) Sure, a state actually banning birth control is probably unlikely–if only because it’s totally unconstitutional thanks to that decision Romney is not sure he supports. But, between Personhood amendments and the unprecedented attacks on family planning funding last year, it’s clear the anti-contraception movement in the U.S. has never been stronger.

As Tracy Clark-Flory wrote recently, “the [GOP's] presidential candidates have perhaps never been more out of step with the sexual beliefs and practices of most Americans.” If Romney wants to differentiate himself from the rest of the fringe social conservatives in the crew, he needs a better answer than, “Contraception? It’s working just fine.” Something more along the lines of: “Contraception? It’s a right. Period.”

Apologies for the lack of transcript. If anyone would like to post one in comments, we’d be very grateful.

St. Paul, MN

Maya Dusenbery is executive director in charge of editorial at Feministing. She is the author of the forthcoming book Doing Harm: The Truth About How Bad Medicine and Lazy Science Leave Women Dismissed, Misdiagnosed, and Sick (HarperOne, March 2018). She has been a fellow at Mother Jones magazine and a columnist at Pacific Standard magazine. Her work has appeared in publications like,, Bitch Magazine, as well as the anthology The Feminist Utopia Project. Before become a full-time journalist, she worked at the National Institute for Reproductive Health. A Minnesota native, she received her B.A. from Carleton College in 2008. After living in Brooklyn, Oakland, and Atlanta, she is currently based in the Twin Cities.

Maya Dusenbery is an executive director of Feministing and author of the forthcoming book Doing Harm on sexism in medicine.

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