DAYTON, Ohio (AP) — A political firestorm over abortion and birth control spread suddenly on Tuesday. A high-ranking official resigned from the Komen breast-cancer charity after its backtracking treaty with Planned Parenthood, and Republican presidential candidates blistered the Obama administration for a recent ruling on Catholic hospitals and contraception.

The White House made a point of declaring it wanted to allay the concerns of church-affiliated employers — many would be required to provide birth control coverage to their workers under the new rules — but there was no word on how those concerns might be addressed.

The two-track drama pumped new furor into longstanding disputes that sometimes take a backseat in political campaigns because the lines are so familiar and firmly drawn. Last week's Komen-Planned Parenthood dispute stirred many women's groups that support legal abortion. And the Obama ruling touched a nerve with moderate Roman Catholics who support contraceptives but also defend their church's right to run its hospitals and other institutions according to religious convictions.

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