In his column at the Chicago Tribune, Clarence Page says that more than ever before, GOP presidential candidates are attempting to dial back the clock on women's reproductive freedoms. Which raises the question about just whose freedoms they want to defend.

… And that ratchets up pressure on President Barack Obama at a time when his administration is expected to announce soon how a "conscience clause" might apply to the Affordable Care Act. Such a provision would allow religious organizations to deny insurance coverage for employees' contraceptive and other reproductive health needs.

Yet, timely as it is, the issue of contraception was not welcome in the recent Republican presidential debate on ABC. Host George Stephanopoulos was booed by the largely Republican audience when he pressed former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney on whether he agreed with former Sen. Rick Santorum that states have the right to ban contraception, even though Santorum was not recommending that states do that.

Santorum believes the U.S. Supreme Court was wrong when it decided in the 1965 Griswold v. Connecticut decision that a right to privacy justified overturning a state ban on contraceptives. Romney tried to dismiss the question as an "unusual topic" since "no state wants to" ban contraception. As Stephanopoulos persisted, Romney called the question "a silly thing." Some audience members cheered Romney and booed Stephanopoulos.

But none of the candidates is calling for an outright ban on contraceptives. Instead they would chip away at women's access, especially if it receives federal funding …

Read Clarence Page's entire column at the Chicago Tribune.