President Obama says he's surprised that debate over contraception and free preventive health care services for women under the health care law have taken center stage in the 2012 presidential campaign.
"We always knew this election would be about two competing economic plans - whether we get to build on our progress or see it taken away," Obama said in a fundraising email to supporters.
"But we had no idea we'd also be up against a social agenda that would roll back decades of progress, particularly for women's health."
The appeal comes as part of a broad effort by Democrats to embrace the recent debate over social issues in order to mobilize the base and deflect discussion away from a slow and still fragile economic recovery.
The message is also directed at women, a key constituency with which Obama has worked to expand an edge against likely GOP nominee Mitt Romney.
Obama asked for donations of $3 or more in a late push for cash before March comes to a close.