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Carl Hiaasen explains why the Republican Party is foolish to try to turn contraception into a wedge issue, in his column, “On Birth Control, GOP Shoots Itself In The Foot:”

In their unflagging efforts to distance themselves from mainstream America, Republican leaders have gleefully seized upon a social issue that’s guaranteed to backfire in November:

Birth control.

If you’re mystified, you’re not alone. Ignoring years of public-opinion polls, the GOP is boldly marching backward into the 1960s to question whether contraception is a legitimate health-care benefit.

The target, as always, is President Obama. He issued an executive mandate requiring that free birth control be included in health plans provided to employees of schools, charities and hospitals connected to religiously affiliated institutions.

Although the mandate excludes churches, Roman Catholic bishops are in a huff, saying the contraception provision violates the First Amendment and “freedom of religion.”

Never mind that Obama softened the rule so that the insurance companies, not the employers, will pay for the coverage. Never mind that many employees served by these healthcare plans don’t share the same religion as the institute for whom they work.

Republican strategists see the controversy as another opportunity to bash Obama’s healthcare reforms, and also to rile up white Christian evangelicals who don’t like the president anyway.

As political miscalculations go, this one could be epic. If you’re looking for a sure way to galvanize female voters against your own party, attack birth control.

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