Utah GOP Congressional Candidate Says Santorum Is Wrong To Oppose Birth Control In Insurance Plans

UT-4 Republican candidate Stephen Sandstrom

WASHINGTON, DC — Utah State Rep. Stephen Sandstrom (R), currently running in his state’s newly-created 4th congressional district, broke with his party’s presidential frontrunner, Rick Santorum, over the weekend on whether any health insurance plans should cover birth control.

On Friday, Santorum told the Conservative Political Action Conference that he didn’t think health insurance plans ought to cover contraception because birth control “costs just a few dollars.” Santorum dismissed contraception as “not a critical economic need” and therefore wasn’t one of the “things you need insurance for.”

ThinkProgress asked Sandstrom about Santorum’s comments at CPAC the following day. Sandstrom, who describes himself as a “stalwart conservative,” nevertheless said Santorum was wrong to say that no insurance plans should cover birth control. Sandstrom argued that if individuals want contraception coverage or companies want to offer it, “then that’s fine.”

KEYES: Now some people are willing to go even a little bit further on the issue like former Sen. Santorum yesterday said that he didn’t think insurance plans should be covering birth control at all. It just wasn’t something that should fall under the purview. What do you think, do you think he’s right on that?

SANDSTROM: No, I differ a little bit. I think it’s okay if an individual company makes that decision or an individual person wants insurance, they want to provide that option for people then that’s fine. But it should be the company making that decision, not the federal government deciding how they do it, and the individual making that decision.

Santorum isn’t the only GOPer currently poo-pooing the cost of birth control. On Friday, Rep. Tom Price (R-GA), the number five Republican in the House of Representatives, told ThinkProgress that “there’s not one woman” who doesn’t have access to birth control.

In fact, birth control can cost women over $850 in the first year of their prescription. Combined with fees from the doctors visit, the out-of-pocket expense could rise to over $1,200 for uninsured women. Such price tags are prohibitive for millions of women; a recent survey found that one in three women voters have struggled to afford contraception at some point.