(CNSNews.com) - A question on birth control produced boos for the moderator but cheers for all four Republican presidential hopefuls at the CNN-hosted debate in Arizona Wednesday night.
Debate moderator John King was booed when he read the question: "Since birth control is the latest hot topic, which candidate believes in birth control, and if not, why?"
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich said it's legitimate to question the government's power to impose on any religion activities that are morally objectionable to that religion.
"But I just want to point out, you did not once in the 2008 campaign, not once did anybody in the elite media ask why Barack Obama voted in favor of legalizing infanticide. OK? So let's be clear here. If we're going to have a debate about who the extremist is on these issues, it is President Obama who, as a state senator, voted to protect doctors who killed babies who survived the abortion. It is not the Republicans."
Romney also drew applause with his response:
"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. Most recently, of course -- most recently requiring the Catholic Church to provide for its employees and its various enterprises health care insurance that would include birth control, sterilization and the morning-after pill. Unbelievable.
“And he retried to retreat from that, but he retreated in a way that was not appropriate, because these insurance companies now have to provide these same things and obviously the Catholic Church will end up paying for them."
Romney concluded that Obama's position on religious tolerance is clear: "And it's one of the reasons the people in this country are saying we want to have a president who will stand up and fight for the rights under our Constitution, our first right, which is for freedom of religion."
Santorum said liberals don’t understand that just because he's talking about sensitive topics doesn't mean he wants a government program to fix it.
"What we're seeing is a problem in our culture with respect to children being raised by children, children being raised out of wedlock, and the impact on society economically, the impact on society with respect to drug use and all -- a host of other things when children have children. And so, yes, I was talking about these very serious issues."
Santorum questioned how the nation can survive "if children are being raised in homes where it's so much harder to succeed economically."
"We can have limited government, lower tax -- we hear this all the time, cut spending, limit the government, everything will be fine. No, everything's not going to be fine. There are bigger problems at stake in America. And someone has got to go out there -- I will -- and talk about the things."
Rep. Ron Paul, an OB-GYN, said he's dealt with birth control pills and contraception for a long time. The controversy, he said, stems from "the fact that the government has control of medical care and medical insurance."
His conclusion: "The problem is, the government is getting involved in things they shouldn't be involved in, especially at the federal level." That line drew applause.
Paul added: "But sort of along the line of the pills creating immorality, I don't see it that way. I think the immorality creates the problem of wanting to use the pills. So you don't blame the pills."