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Attention to Abortion Rights in This Year's Presidential Campaign is Atypical

Attention to Abortion Rights in This Year's Presidential Campaign is Atypical

November 5, 2012 — In contrast to previous elections, both President Obama and Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney have put abortion rights "front and center" in their campaigns, according to NPR's "Shots."

Presidential candidates "normally let surrogates do the talking" about abortion rights because of the divisiveness of the issue, "Shots" reports. Both sides need to rally their base -- abortion-rights supporters for Democrats and abortion-rights opponents for Republicans -- without alienating voters who go against their party's platform on the issue.

Romney's campaign has "been walking an interesting tightrope" on the issue by trying to moderate his views at times while also attempting to maintain a strict antiabortion-rights stance to please conservatives, "Shots" reports. Some Romney surrogates have said he would not threaten abortion rights if elected.

Ed Kilgore, a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute and author of the Washington Monthly's "Political Animal Blog," said the issue has been more prominent in this year's campaign because there is a strong chance the next president will have the chance to nominate a Supreme Court justice, which could affect the future of Roe v. Wade.

Conservatives also have brought the issue to the forefront by being vocal about their opposition to the federal contraceptive coverage rules, Kilgore said. Efforts to cut off funding to Planned Parenthood have drawn attention to reproductive health issues, as well (Rovner, "Shots," NPR, 11/5).