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The White House and top Democrats, intensifying their push to build support for their party's health overhaul proposals, are increasingly targeting women, a politically crucial group with strong opinions on health care that polls suggest has yet to be sold on the changes.

In speeches, news conferences and even an all-female talk-in on the Senate floor Thursday, Democrats have been pounding away daily on the message that their ideas — along the lines of what President Barack Obama has called for — are especially good for women. The campaign reflects a concern among Democrats that women, who typically make most of a family's health care decisions, are not yet on board with the sweeping changes Obama and his congressional allies are advocating.

That's despite the fact that women have historically been more concerned about health care, and more likely to support changes, than men.

A recent Associated Press-GfK poll found that women, like the public overall, are generally split on the health care legislation. Although younger women — those under 55 who many opinion experts consider crucial in any health care debate — slightly favor the proposals, nearly one-third of them are on the fence, saying they are neither supportive nor opposed.

"What we're seeing is that the administration and the Congress still has to make the case to women," said pollster Mark Mellman, who has advised Democrats and liberal groups on public attitudes on the health care overhaul. "The volume has to be turned up on the communication, and the communication has to be directed to a large degree toward this group."


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