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Abortion, birth control becoming major campaign issues

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“No one is forcing Catholics to take contraceptives,” writes Keith Soko, associate professor of religious ethics and moral theology at St. Ambrose University in Davenport, Iowa, in a CNN opinion column. “It is a question of access, and hence, of justice.” (Professor Soko describes himself as “a Catholic theologian and lifelong Catholic.”)

But Mitt Romney says the Obama administration’s decision regarding Catholic hospitals and universities and contraception amounts to ordering religious organizations to “violate their conscience.” Priests around the country have read bishops’ letters at mass urging parishioners to object to the administration’s action, some warning that universities and hospitals affiliated with the church might have to close.

But the GOP front-runner’s position on birth control and abortion are a problem for him too.

As CBS’s Political Hotsheet reported last week, in 1994 Romney said "abortion should be safe and legal in this country," and in 2002 he said "I will preserve and protect a woman's right to choose, and am devoted and dedicated to honoring my word in that regard."

Gingrich and Rick Santorum (both of whom are Roman Catholic) have gone after Romney on the issue. A Gingrich campaign spot claims that as governor of Massachusetts Romney “signed government-mandated health care with taxpayer funded abortions.”

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