GOP candidates spar over government's role in Americans' sex lives

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Addressing concerns that he would seek to impose his moral views on Americans if he were elected president, he added that "just because I'm talking about it, doesn't mean I want a government program to fix it."

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney similarly suggested the president of the United States had a role in promoting family values.

"When you have 40 percent of kids being born out of wedlock, you ask yourself how are we going to have a society in the future?" Romney said.

Texas Rep. Ron Paul had a different take, arguing that "immorality creates the problem of wanting to use the pill," not the other way around.

He also blasted Santorum's argument that his vote in favor of funding for Planned Parenthood in a larger funding bill was offset by his push for abstinence funding.

"The federal government shouldn't even be spending money on abstinence," Paul said. "I don't see that in the Constitution."

While the marriage rate has plummeted over the past few decades, teenage pregnancy isn't nearly as prevalent as it once was. 

A National Center for Health Statistics report last year found that the US teen birth rate in 2009 - 39.1 births per 1,000 girls aged 15-19 - was the lowest in 70 years. That's 59 percent lower than the high of 96.3 births per 1,000 recorded in 1957.

The Guttmacher Institute, which supports family planning and abortion rights, credited greater access and use of contraceptives - especially condoms - for 86 percent of the decline.