Out of necessity abortion proponents have had to shift the debate from abortion to contraception, as the Washington Post explains:

For years, abortion rights advocates have battled an intensity gap: Their supporters don’t feel as strongly about protecting abortion access as antiabortion voters do about restricting it.  This has been especially true for younger voters….

Keenan’s opponents unexpectedly came up with an answer: Widen the reproductive-health debate to include family planning and contraceptives.

It is a foregone conclusion that President Obama’s contraceptive mandate was a calculated political move to win back young and female voters. We shall see if it works.

One risk to this strategy in my mind is that pro-aborts will have to divide energies.

Another risk is if abortion is no longer the promoted  topic, will pro-lifers be able to get more done under the radar, with less pressure? A February 21 piece entitled, “We’re winning one war on women, but losing another,” Ms. blog worries:

But while the media is momentarily fixated on the second big story this month of a losing fight against family planning (remember the Susan G. Komen Fund fiasco?), less attention has been paid to a related war that is not going well at all. The assault on abortion that has resulted from the 2010 elections – the Republican takeover of Congress and many statehouses and governorships – has arguably produced the most serious threat to abortion access since the Roe decision in 1973.

If pro-lifers were able to get so much done with the glare of abortion proponents fully upon them, how much more can they can get done when pro-aborts are focused elsewhere?

Furthermore, the contraceptive mandate has prompted unforeseen fallout for the other side, more potential loss of ground.

Vice President Biden warned the mandate “wouldn’t be seen as an issue of contraception – it would be seen as an issue of religious liberty,” since Obama’s mandate forces religious groups to cover contraceptives, abortion-drugs, and sterilization in their insurance plans. According to Politico today:

The contraception fight is expanding far beyond Washington, with several states eyeing ways of blocking the new Obama administration rule requiring most insurers cover contraception, or considering rolling back rules that the states themselves already had on the books….

New Hampshire, for instance, is one of 28 states that already have a contraception coverage mandate similar to the new federal rule – but Republican lawmakers there are considering repealing it.

We didn’t know it was there,” Speaker William O’Brien told the Nashua Telegraph last week. “We don’t want it there.”

Another unforeseen complication: Personhood initiatives and legislation, which the other side may just have lit a fire under. More from Politico:

What, for instance, happens if a legislature prohibits insurers from covering the full range of contraceptives in policies sold through an exchange — but federal rules require it?

Such an approach could grow out of the so-called personhood bills, which give embryos legal rights from the moment of conception, pending in several states that could potentially outlaw emergency contraception because it can prevent implantation of fertilized eggs.

That could force a politically difficult problem for the Obama administration….

Virginia Del. Bob Marshall, a Republican who is sponsoring a personhood bill there, is itching for a fight over this issue, but it may have to wait until next year. It is too late in this year’s legislative session to file new bills.

“I will not tolerate this attack on the conscience,” Marshall said. “I still have legislative options.”

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