By Meghashyam Mali - 08/04/12 06:22 PM EDT
President Obama's campaign on Saturday unveiled a new television ad airing in key swing states, which hits GOP candidate Mitt Romney over Planned Parenthood funding and contraception.
The ad is the latest in a series of web and TV blasts as Obama and Democratic allies have sought to bolster their already strong lead among female voters and push back against GOP efforts against public funding for abortion and an administration birth-control mandate.
As the video opens, a female voter named Dawn criticizes the presumptive GOP nominee on camera, saying "I think Mitt Romney's really out of touch with the average woman's health issues."
A card reading "Mitt Romney opposes requiring employers to cover contraception," flashes onscreen, a reference to the White House ruling, which went into effect Wednesday, forcing insurance plans to cover birth control for women without a co-pay.
"I don't think Mitt Romney can even understand the mindset of someone who has to go to Planned Parenthood," the voter adds.
The ad is also interspersed with clips of Romney vowing to cut government funding for Planned Parenthood.
"I don't remember anyone as extreme as Romney," says Dawn, as the video concludes. "I think Romney would definitely drag us back."
The ad will air in Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio, Virginia.
The Romney campaign dismissed the new ad as an attempt to distract voters from the economy, which polls show voters rating as the most important issue this election.
"One day after the unemployment rate increased and we reached 42 consecutive months with a jobless rate greater than eight percent, it is not surprising that the Obama campaign would release a false ad in an attempt to distract from the effects of the President’s failed policies,” said Romney spokesperson Andrea Saul.
“Dishonest political attacks will not change the fact that President Obama has not turned around the economy, and his policies have hurt women and families all over the country,” she added.
Romney has said he would "get rid" of Planned Parenthood if elected and that he opposes the administration birth control ruling. Republicans argue the measure violates employers' religious freedom and House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) has said the mandate "must be reversed."
But Democrats have painted their opposition as an attack on women's health, noting that the policy also covers a range of preventative healthcare services, including disease screenings and counseling for women who are victims of domestic violence.
Obama has frequently invoked Planned Parenthood and the contraception controversy in campaign speeches as he appeals to female voters. "I’ve got two daughters. I want them to control their own healthcare choices," he said at a rally in Portland last month.
The debate over the issue is unlikely to subside in an election year, as lawsuits challenging the birth-control provision continue to be filed and both sides focus on the issue, hoping to rally their bases.
Planned Parenthood Action Fund, the group’s political arm, endorsed Obama earlier this year and announced a $1.4 million ad buy to attack Romney over women’s health issues in key swing states. The group which has rarely been involved in presidential elections in the past is taking a more forceful role to fight congressional Republicans efforts to block public funding for abortion.
While taxpayer dollars cannot fund abortions under state or federal law, anti-abortion rights opponents, arguing that money is fungible, have called for officials to end all public health contracts with Planned Parenthood.
This story was updated at 4:14 p.m. to include a response from the Romney campaign.