Poll: GOP Ladies Love Santorum

Santorum's strong views on issues like abortion, contraception working with Republican women.

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Rick Santorum is getting a welcomed boost from Republican female voters, a key voting bloc where he has previously struggled.

According to a new ABC-Washington Post poll, Santorum's favorability rating among GOP women has surged 13 points since January, and last week he received his biggest jump yet. The poll finds that 57 percent of Republican women view Santorum favorably.

Santorum's campaign has become much more visible on the national stage this month, and his strong opinions on issues that are important to women have reached that wider audience. He's been outspoken about his views on birth control, abortion, and prenatal screenings.

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As a strict Catholic, Santorum is emphatically pro-life, and he has said that birth control is "harmful to women."

"My personal position is well known, obviously well known," he said at a campaign event last Friday in Columbus, Ohio. "My wife and I, we don't believe or practice birth control as an article of faith of our church."

Santorum's top donor, Foster Freiss, lended his own views on birth control recently as well. Last week, he told Andrea Mitchell that in his day women "used Bayer aspirin for contraception. The gals put it between their knees and it wasn't that costly."

Santorum also opposes prenatal screenings that look for deformities in fetuses because he believes the process leads to selective abortions. "Yes, prenatal testing, amniocentesis does in fact result more often than not in abortion. That is a fact," Santorum told Face the Nation last Sunday.

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Recently, he waded into the debate about women's expanded role in front line military operations. He explained to CNN's John King earlier this month that he feared "emotions" might jeopardize military missions if women were involved. During Wednesday's debate in Arizona, Santorum softened his views, and he said that he would defer to experts on military policy before making decisions about women on the front line.

Santorum's surge in favorability among GOP women brings him closer to Mitt Romney. According to the poll, 61 percent of Republican females have a favorable view of the former Governor of Massachusetts. Still, both men will have a lot of work to do in a general election, as 55 percent of Democratic women have an unfavorable view of Romney and 40 percent don't like Santorum.

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