MANCHESTER, N.H. - As the battle for undecided women voters intensifies, President Obama today warned that Republican nominee Mitt Romney would give more control over women's "health care choices" to their employers and politicians if he becomes president.
"You've got a state legislature up here that sometimes acts like it knows better than women when it comes to women's own health care decisions. You know, my opponent's got the same approach," Obama told a crowd of 6,000 supporters at an outdoor rally in Veteran's Park.
He noted Romney's pledge to end federal funding for Planned Parenthood clinics and a desire to roll back a provision of the health care law requiring employers to offer insurance plans that provide contraceptive coverage free of charge.
"Think about that. Do you think your boss or your insurance company or some politician in Concord or Washington should get control of your health care choices?" said Obama. "The health care law we passed puts those choices in your hands, where they belong."
"That's where they're going to stay as long as I'm president of the United States - as long as you vote," he added.
Romney has opposed on ethical and constitutional grounds the Obama administration's requirement for all employers - including religiously-affiliated institutions, such as universities and hospitals - to offer health insurance plans with contraceptive coverage. But he said Tuesday during the presidential debate that he does not otherwise oppose contraception.
"I don't believe that bureaucrats in Washington should tell someone whether they can use contraceptives or not, and I don't believe employers should tell someone whether they can have contraceptive care or not," he said. "Every woman in America should have access to contraceptives, and the president's statement of my policy is completely and totally wrong."
Obama also swiped at Romney today for not taking a position on whether he would have supported the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which helps victims of pay discrimination sue for compensation, and for saying this week that he relied on "binders of women" to help pick female candidates for his cabinet.
The back-and-forth on the issues reflects what both sides see as the possibly decisive role of women voters in this election.
Obama's visit to New Hampshire was his fifth this year. Recent polls show Obama and Romney locked in a tight race for the state's four electoral votes.
"Nineteen days, New Hampshire. Nineteen days," Obama told the crowd, urging them to register. "In 19 days, you're going to step into a voting booth, and you've got a big choice to make. It's not just a choice between two candidates or parties. It's about two different visions for this country that we love."