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Abortion, birth control becoming major campaign issues

GOP presidential hopefuls are attacking President Obama's order on contraception and Catholic institutions. But Mitt Romney also faces questions about his past support for abortion rights.

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U.S. Capitol Police officers stand guard between abortion rights and anti-abortion supporters at a rally in front of the United States Supreme Court in Washington during the annual March For Life rally Jan. 23, 2012.

Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP

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Whenever abortion becomes a heated political issue, you can be sure that religion is involved. The reverse also is true. Such is the case with the 2012 election season.

Decisions the Obama administration has made regarding abortion have been targeted by Republican presidential candidates vying for the votes of social conservatives, including evangelical Christians. So too has the administration’s recent move on contraception, some kinds of which are considered by opponents to be a form of abortion.

Newt Gingrich accuses President Obama of waging a “war against religion” – specifically that it has “declared war” on the Roman Catholic Church – for (among other things) requiring Catholic hospitals and universities to provide contraception as part of employee health plans.

The Monitor's Weekly News Quiz for Jan. 27-Feb. 3, 2012

Employees at many of the church’s hospitals and universities are not Roman Catholic, and most Catholic women in the United States disagree with the church’s official opposition to the use of condoms and birth control pills. Nearly 70 percent of Catholic women use sterilization, the birth control pill, or an IUD, the Guttmacher Institute reported last year.

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