On Wednesday, contraception became the latest topic to raise the ire of conservative debate goers.
During a CNN-sponsored Republican presidential debate in Arizona, the crowd booed wildly at the mention of birth control.
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich used the opportunity to attack the moderators as he had done in almost every other debate in this campaign cycle.
“Not once did anybody in the elite media ask why Barack Obama voted in favor of legalizing infanticide,” Gingrich complained.
CNN moderator John King neglected to note that several organization have debunked the claim that President Barack Obama ever supported a so-called “infanticide” provision in an Illinois measure that would have required doctors to administer medical treatment to fetuses that survived an abortion.
Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney called the Obama administration’s decision to have all health plans cover contraception for women an “attack on religious conscience.”
“I don’t think we’ve seen in the history of this country the kind of attack on religious conscience, religious freedom, religious tolerance that we’ve seen under Barack Obama,” the candidate explained.
For his part, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum defended his earlier remarks about “the dangers of contraception.”
“We have a society… the increasing number of teens being born out of wedlock in America, teens who are sexually active,” Santorum said. “The left gets so upset: ‘Oh, look at him talking about these things.’ Here is the difference between me and the left — and they don’t get this — just because I’m talking about it doesn’t mean I want a government program to fix it. That’s what they do. That’s not what we do.”
As an obstetrics and gynaecology doctor, Texas Congressman Ron Paul had a different take on the issue.
“Sort of along the line of the [birth control] pills creating the immorality, I don’t see it that way,” Paul remarked. “I think the immorality creates the problem of wanting to use the pill. So, you don’t blame the pills. I think it’s sort of like the argument — conservatives use the argument all the time about guns. Guns don’t kill, criminals kill.”
Romney returned to Santorum’s point about children being born to single parents.
“You ask yourself, how are we going to have a society in the future?” Romney wondered. “Because these kids are raised in poverty in many cases. They are in abusive settings. … And when we have programs that say we are going to teach abstinence in schools, the liberals go crazy and try and stop us from doing that.”
Gingrich pivoted to blame the health care reforms Romney signed in Massachusetts for the Obama administration’s current mandate on contraception coverage.
“When you have government as the central provider of services, you inevitably move towards tyranny,” the Georgia Republican opined. “I think this is true whether it’s Romneycare or it’s Obamacare.”
Paul then turned the discussion into an attack on reproductive services provider Planned Parenthood.
“If you voted for Planned Parenthood like the senator has, you voted for birth control pills,” Paul insisted. “And you literally — because funds are fungible — you literally vote for abortion. … Planned Parenthood should get nothing.”
On that point, at least, Santorum agreed, while defending his vote to fund Planned Parenthood through Title X.
“I said, ‘Well, if you’re going to have Title X funding then we’re going to create something called Title XX,’” Santorum recalled. “Which is going to provide funding for abstinence based programs. … I would say that I’ve always been very public, that as president of the United States, I will defund Planned Parenthood. I will not sign any appropriations bill that funds Planned Parenthood.”
Watch this video from CNN, broadcast Feb. 22, 2012.