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US Republican Santorum not 'anti-women': wife

21 march 2012, 10:23
0
Presidenial candidate and former Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA) (L)and his wife Karen Santorum. ©AFP
Presidenial candidate and former Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA) (L)and his wife Karen Santorum. ©AFP
White House hopeful Rick Santorum's wife hit back Monday at claims that her husband is "anti-women," and denied that if elected he would make it harder for women to gain access to contraception, AFP reports.

In a rare television interview on the eve of a Republican primary contest in Illinois, Karen Santorum defended her husband, who has come under fire from women's groups for his opposition to birth control measures and abortion.

She told CNN talk show host Piers Morgan that her husband's strong opposition to contraception represent "his personal beliefs," and would not form government policy were he to become the Republican candidate and defeat Democrat Barack Obama in November's general election.

"The unfortunate thing is when Rick was asked the question, he said these are my personal beliefs. And the press kept asking him the issue about it again and again," Mrs Santorum said.

"What it is, it's not an issue about contraception. It's an issue about personal freedoms. And the fact that the government should not be making people go against their conscience."

Santorum, a former Pennsylvania senator who is vying with former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney for a win in Illinois, is a conservative Catholic who has trumpeted his strong Christian beliefs on the campaign trail.

His opposition to abortion and contraception allowed him to gain traction as the most socially conservative of the four candidates seeking the Republican nomination, but it may have affected his standing with women voters.

When asked if her husband was "anti-women" and opposed to women having contraception, Mrs Santorum replied: "Not at all."

"He's been 100 percent supportive of me and my dreams and my career. It was my decision to stay home and be a mom at home. Some day when I go back to work, Rick will be 100 percent behind me," she said.

"So it makes me sad that the media tries to do that to him. They try to make it look like he is something he's not. Rick is a great guy. He's completely supportive of women. I think women have nothing to fear when it comes to contraceptives, he will do nothing on that issue."

Asked again if that meant Santorum, if elected, would respect a women's right to use contraception, his wife replied: "Absolutely. And he has said that."

Written off in the early days, Santorum has steadily notched up wins -- 10 out of 31 contests -- largely with the help of evangelicals and the party's most conservative members.

Romney however is favored to defeat Santorum Tuesday in Illinois.

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