Today marks a major milestone for the Obama health care law and, more importantly, women’s health. As the Center for American Progress outlines, “a regulation goes into effect that will phase in guaranteed coverage for a range of preventive services for women with no cost sharing, such as co-pays, deductibles, or co-insurance.” Services covered include contraceptive methods and counseling, counseling for STDs, domestic violence screening and counseling, HPV and HIV tests and annual well-woman visits. 47 million women will be able to access these services now.

And while a Democratic White House is allowing women to access these basic parts of health care, what are Republicans doing for women?

The House of Representatives voted down a bill on Tuesday night that would have prohibited women in Washington, D.C. from getting abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, even in cases involving rape or incest.

The bill received 220-154 votes, but because the Republicans brought it up under a suspension of House rules, it did not receive the two-thirds majority needed to pass.

Yes, even in cases of rape or incest. Earlier this month, Republicans voted again to repeal the Affordable Care Act, including these preventative services for women, and they have sought to undercut the law’s provisions for several of these services, especially birth control, numerous times since the ACA was passed. Plus, if Republicans really cared about lowering abortion rates, they’d support the U.S. adopting a Canada-style health-care system. But they don’t: Instead, they’re merely sacrificing women’s health at the altar of political grandstanding and cheap moralism.

Now, many have argued that the Democrats’ “war on women” framing is overwrought, and that’s a more-than-fair objection. But at the same time, this is a struggle between a party that wants more women to have access to essential health care services and a party that has decided rape victims must carry their child to term. Democrats should welcome this battle.

* Obama leads in swing states. Bain attacks working? The latest Quinnipiac/New York Times/CBS polls of Ohio, Florida and Pennsylvania are out this morning, and the numbers look good for the president: an eleven point lead in Pennsylvania and six point leads in Ohio and Florida among likely voters. The New York Times flags this key nugget:

The polls found that more voters say Mr. Romney’s experience was too focused on making profits at Bain Capital, the private equity firm he led, rather than the kind of experience that would help create jobs.

This is only one poll; others have cast doubt on whether the Bain attacks are working; and there is some criticism out there of this poll’s sampling. But if the findings are accurate, it suggests swing voters are prepared to see Romney’s Bain years through the frame that Obama and Dems have emphasized. They have asked voters to decide whether Romney’s business background is either about job creation, an idea that’s central to Romney’s core case for the presidency, or whether it’s about profits, which may undermine that case. And they may be picking the latter. And yet it remains unclear how much this matters; the poll also finds the two candidates roughly even on the economy. — gs

* Romney tax plan benefits the rich; sun rises in the east: This time, it’s an updated study from Brookings and the Tax Policy Center. According to the Post, the authors “seem to bend over backward to be fair to the Republican presidential candidate,” even assuming that the tax cuts would produce revenue growth. Despite this, the study found that if Romney’s plan is to be revenue-neutral the top five percent of Americans get a tax break, while the bottom 95 percent get a tax increase. Worse for Romney, the study concludes,

It is not mathematically possible to design a revenue-neutral plan that preserves current incentives for savings and investment and that does not result in a net tax cut for high-income taxpayers and a net tax increase for lower- and/or middle-income taxpayers.

It’s up to the media now to pressure Romney on this mathematical impossibility.

* Dems keep pounding Romney’s overseas troubles: The DNC is out with a new Web video that recaps some brutal local TV coverage in the states of Romney’s screw-ups on his overseas trip, again suggesting that Dems will continue highlighting them to undermine confidence in his leadership abilities and capacity to represent America to the rest of the world.

As David Plouffe wrote in his campaign memoir, the Obama team views local media as perhaps the best way to reach independents and undecided voters. And this coverage is particularly rough. — gs

* A newer, nicer Romney? Only a few days after the Obama campaign produced a rare positive ad, the Romney camp is out with its own positive ad, with Romney speaking directly to the camera about his resume, plus what The Hill calls “a slew of American flags.” Look for more of these ads from the Romney camp if he continues to trail badly in likability.

* Who’s Julian Castro? The mayor of San Antonio will give the keynote speech at this year’s Democratic convention, and the Huffington Post's Elise Foley has a profile of him and his role in the Democrats’ focus on Latinos. It’s also worth rereading the New York Times’s May 2010 profile of him, when already a number of people saw him as the next leader of the Hispanic wing of the Democratic Party.

* Fire Ed DeMarco? Maybe not: Federal Housing Finance Agency acting director Ed DeMarco, who regulates Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, announced Tuesday he will not let the two firms reduce loan balances for struggling homeowners, stifling one way for the White House to help the economy. As a result, Paul Krugman and others have called for DeMarco to be fired.

But thanks to the Senate blocking nominees for the post, he’d have to be replaced with one of his deputies, all of whom apparently agree with him on this issue. Though the White House deserves blame for not nominating its own director, at this point it’s best for liberals to focus lobbying efforts elsewhere.

* Good economic news? Two economic indicators this week show good news for the economy and the president: first, home prices went up 2.2% from April to May, the biggest gain in more than a decade. Second, personal income rose 0.5%, above expectations, though consumer spending remained flat. Still, the number that really matters comes Friday: the July jobs report.

* And Gore Vidal passes at 86: The writer and social critic died yesterday of complications from pneumonia after a six-decade literary career. The Nation’s John Nichols writes:

I loved Gore most for his possession of American history -- and for his ability to use that history to fight contemporary battles…Gore was a founder displaced. He believed that America was not made, but rather that it was in the making.

There was a righteousness to his faith, as is always the case with genuine radicals. He identified with the most righteous reformers, the populists and the progressives of the latter part of the 19th century and the early days of the 20th. He loved their determination to use electoral democracy to forge economic democracy. And he delighted in the prospect that, as one of his heroes Robert M. La Follette proposed, “the people shall rule.”

What else?