Contraception question booed at Republican debate
The question drew boos from the audience and impassioned statements from the four candidates on the stage in Mesa, Arizona, last night.
“Since birth control is the latest hot topic, which candidate believes in birth control, and if not, why?” was the question posed via cnnpolitics.com.
It sparked a lengthy discourse by the candidates on religious freedom, contraception, and family structure. None of the White House hopefuls directly responded to the question.
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who has taken on the media in previous debates, said it was legitimate to question “the power of the government to impose on religion activities which any religion opposes,” before questioning CNN moderator John King and zeroing in on Democrat Barack Obama.
Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney provided backup, saying Obama had launched “the worst attack on religious conscience in the history of the United States.”
In post-debate commentary, CNN senior political analyst David Gergen said: “There are a lot of women out there on Twitter who believe that these candidates really live in the past,” and “it will be interesting to see how that plays out.”
Emily’s List, which supports pro-choice Democratic women candidates, tweeted: “Most Insulting Rhetoric: @MittRomney for ‘This argument isn’t about contraceptives’ & dismissing the discussion of women’s health #cnndebate.”
Santorum, who has been at the center of the debate over hot-button social issues, does have some women in his corner. The anti-abortion women’s activist group Susan B. Anthony List opened a bus tour and ad campaign in Michigan encouraging people to vote for the former Pennsylvania senator on Tuesday. The ad says Santorum has “stood up time and again for the rights of women and unborn children.”
Photo Credit: REUTERS/Joshua Lott (Candidates at Arizona debate)
Correction: An earlier version of this blog post stated that the debate question referred to abortion. The question was about contraception, not abortion.