by Brad Knickerbocker/The Christian Science Monitor

Mitt Romney is having to talk about abortion a lot more than he’d like to these days for one key reason: His history on this important social issue is, shall we say, very mixed.

Also, it’s a wedge issue that’s increasingly important to the Obama campaign, which some polls show is seeing a drop in what had been its clear lead among women voters. As a result, both sides have hustled out new ads on the subject.

A USA Today/Gallup Poll of swing states this week shows why it could be an important issue in the election.

When women were asked to identify the most important issue for them, the top concern by far was abortion, an issue that didn’t even register among men, USA Today reported. Nearly four in 10 women cited it, and those who did supported Obama by more than 3-1.

Back in 1994 when he was challenging Ted Kennedy for a seat in the US Senate, Romney declared that “abortion should be safe and legal in this country.”

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