Updated: 5:49 p.m. ET
GOP presidential contender Mitt Romney is blasting Vice President Joe Biden for saying he could "fully understand" China's one-child policy.
Biden, speaking in a question and answer session at Sichuan University on Monday, was commenting on China's lack of a "safety net" for seniors - a dilemma he likened to America's problems funding Medicare. He said that because of the country's one-child law, "you're in a position where one wage earner will be taking care of four retired people. Not sustainable."
"You have no safety net," he said in his remarks. "Your policy has been one which I fully understand -- I'm not second-guessing -- of one child per family."
Romney, in a Wednesday statement, called China's policy "gruesome and barbaric," and said Biden's "acquiescence to such a policy should shock the conscience of every American."
"Instead of condoning the policy, Vice President Biden should have condemned it in the strongest possible terms," Romney said in the statement. "There can be no defense of a government that engages in compulsory sterilization and forced abortions in the name of population control."
China's one-child policy was introduced to the country in 1979 as a means to control the country's growing overpopulation problem, and remains implemented in many of the nation's urban areas. The policy has been widely criticized by human rights organizations for its implication in forced abortions and female infanticide in China, as well as the country's growing gender imbalance.
House Speaker John Boehner said Wednesday he was "deeply troubled" by Biden's comments, and that the policy "should not be condoned by any American official."
"I'm deeply troubled by the comments reportedly made by the Vice President yesterday regarding China's reprehensible one-child policy, which has resulted in forced sterilizations and coerced abortions and should not be condoned by any American official," he said in a statement. "No government on Earth has the authority to place quotas on the value of innocent human life, or to treat life as an economic commodity that can be regulated and taken away on a whim by the state."
A spokesperson for Biden responded on Tuesday that the vice president was, in his remarks, actually arguing against China's one-child policy.
"The Obama Administration strongly opposes all aspects of China's coercive birth limitation policies, including forced abortion and sterilization," said Biden spokeswoman Kendra Barkoff in a statement. "The Vice President believes such practices are repugnant. He also pointed out, in China, that the policy is, as a practical matter, unsustainable. He was arguing against the One Child Policy to a Chinese audience."