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Originally published March 8, 2012 at 3:51 PM | Page modified March 8, 2012 at 3:59 PM

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The war on women might be settled at the ballot box

At a time when politicians should be hyper-focused on jobs and the economy, a ridiculous shadow war on women and their health-care rights is being waged.

Seattle Times Editorial

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REMEMBER the good old days when women's access to contraception, abortion choice and education was a given? Few people talked about these rights because the dialogue had progressed beyond such debates.

At a time when politicians should be hyper-focused on jobs and the economy, a ridiculous shadow war on women and their health-care rights has taken center stage.

Talk-show host Rush Limbaugh absurdly described a Georgetown University law student as a "slut" and "prostitute" — all for advocating for health coverage that includes contraception.

Weeks ago, the Susan G. Komen for the Cure foundation attempted to end most of its financing of Planned Parenthood. Aren't groups dedicated to women's health care kindred spirits? No, said Komen, before reversing course.

Republican presidential candidates keep attacking basic women's rights. Rick Santorum thinks contraception is damaging to society.

GOP candidates also stumbled as they tried to separate themselves from — but not offend — Limbaugh. Mitt Romney limply said, "Those are not the words I would have chosen." Really? That's all he has?

Before all the crazy talk, women voters were quietly sizing up candidates based on jobs and the economy.

President Obama stumbled, too, when he argued that health-insurance plans, including Catholic universities and charities — had to offer birth control. Government forcing religious groups to do something rarely works. His subsequent plan — for health companies to provide coverage — was correct, albeit late.

An unabashed Limbaugh, interviewing food writer Tracie McMillan, dubbed her an "authorette" and lamented "all these young single white women" threatening America's freedoms. Stop the cheap shots on women — white, single or otherwise.

Women make up 53 percent of the electorate in our state and a sizable percentage elsewhere. Smacking them and their health care derails a meaningful national discussion and prompts voter payback.

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