Abortion, Birth Control & More: Where the GOP Candidates Stand

Here's your iVillage primer on where the Republican presidential hopefuls stand on the topics everyone is talking about (7 Photos)

Joanne Bamberger on Apr 5, 2012 at 12:09PM

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The Issue: Birth Control

Mark Wilson/Getty Images

a Joanne Bamberger on Apr 5, 2012 at 12:08PM

When it comes to women’s reproductive health issues, this year, as never before, the right of women’s to access birth control through their health insurance plans provided through employers, especially those with a religious affiliation, has been hot topic number one. The four remaining GOP presidential candidates all have pretty much the same position – if women want birth control they should have to pay for it themselves rather than have insurance cover it, viewing it not as a health-related issue (even though well over 90% of American women rely on birth control at some point in their lives), but more as a question of sexual activity:

Mitt Romney – The former Massachusetts Governor used to believe that employer provided health care plans should cover birth control for women, even if the employer had a religious affiliation. Now presidential candidate Romney has changed his stance. Even though he was a fan of the universal health care legislation in his home state, Romney recently told one voter at a campaign stop, “If you’re looking for free stuff, vote for [Obama].”

Rick Santorum – The former Pennsylvania Senator has declared that states should have the right to ban birth control, even for married couples, adding that he believes the use of birth control leads to immorality. His wife Karen claims that those are only her husband’s personal beliefs and that American women don’t have to fear losing their birth control if her husband is elected to the White House. That’s a little hard to believe, since Santorum has also said he would like to overturn the Supreme Court decision that paved the way for legally available prescription birth control even for married couples.

Newt Gingrich – The former Speaker of the House has been somewhat vague on whether he thinks health insurance plans should be required to cover prescription birth control. He has supported efforts to let employers with a religious affiliation opt out of such coverage because of moral objections. While in Congress, Gingrich consistently opposed federal funding for family planning.

Ron Paul – The U.S. Congressman from Texas, an OB/GYN by training who delivered over 4,000 babies while he was a practicing physician, says he thinks the current debate on birth control is “silly.” But in his true libertarian style, he agrees that religiously affiliated employers’ shouldn’t be forced to pay for birth control through insurance plans. He’s also introduced federal legislation several times that would allow states to ban the sale of contraception. Interestingly, though, he recently admitted that as a physician he did prescribe birth control to his patients. When it comes to birth control coverage as it relates to men, none of the candidates has addressed whether insurers should be able to opt out of covering the costs of vasectomies.

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