The importance of women to Barack Obama’s reelection hopes is no secret. The president consistently trails Mitt Romney among male voters, but so far that deficit is more than wiped out by his strength with females – which explains why the Obama team is redoubling its efforts to turn women against Romney and the GOP brand.The proximate reason for this is the behavior of Republicans, who have placed a new level of rhetorical and legislative importance on reproductive issues in the past few years.The shock value of Todd Akin’s “legitimate rape” comment a week ago made it an instant national story, but the controversy also focused attention on the lack of a rape exception in the anti-abortion platform language Republicans will ratify in Tampa this week. This came a few months after the congressional GOP picked a fight with Obama over the administration’s efforts to mandate contraception coverage, and after Gov. Bob McDonnell and his fellow Virginia Republicans wereforced to abandon a plan to compel women to undergo a transvaginal ultrasound before having an abortion. (Instead, McDonnell signed a bill that mandates a non-invasive ultrasound.) There’s also been aproliferation of “personhood” amendments at the state level, along with numerous other Republican-led efforts to restrict abortion. All of this has allowed Democrats to accuse the GOP of pursuing a “war on women.”
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