“This isn’t an argument about contraceptives,” but rather, a discussion about whether America will preserve “the foundation of the nation, which is the family,” he said.
Romney criticized the Obama administration’s narrow view of religion and defended his own record of working with religious organizations to ensure that the law allowed them to practice their beliefs freely.
In his remarks, former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum said that there is a need to fix the broader problem that “the family is fracturing” in America.
“What we’re seeing is a problem in our culture,” he explained.
While campaigning, Santorum has said that he is willing to speak about issues that most other politicians avoid, such as “the dangers of contraception.”
During the debate, he explained that the decline of the American family must be addressed rather than ignored because it is negatively impacting society.
More than 40 percent of children in America are born out of wedlock, many of them to young parents, he observed. When we have “children being raised by children,” there is a greater risk of poverty, drug abuse and other problems, he said.
He advocated funding for abstinence programs rather than contraception as a means of easing these problems in society.
Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich and Texas congressman Ron Paul also weighed in on the debate.
Gingrich said that there was a “legitimate question about the power of the government to impose on religion.”
Paul, a former OB-GYN, agreed that moral problems are affecting the culture of America. “It’s the morality of society that we have to deal with,” he said, adding that “the pills can’t be blamed.”
He later claimed during the debate that “the morning after pill is nothing more than a birth control pill” and so “you can’t separate the two.” Paul drew criticism, however, for misrepresenting the morning after pill, which unlike contraception, terminates a pregnancy that already exists by preventing a fertilized egg from attaching to the uterus.
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The four remaining GOP candidates have all describe themselves as pro-life during their campaigns and have vowed to defund Planned Parenthood.
They have also pledged to defend the religious freedom of Catholics and all Americans in their policies.