Abortion and birth control are divisive issues in politics, and they've flared up at times in this campaign despite the candidates' reluctance to dwell on them.
President Barack Obama supports abortion rights. And his health care law requires contraceptives to be available for free for women in workplace health plans.
Republican Mitt Romney opposes abortion rights, though he previously supported them. He says the Supreme Court ruling establishing abortion rights should be reversed, allowing states to ban abortion. He's also criticized mandatory coverage for contraception as a threat to religious liberty.
Romney's ability as president to enact federal abortion restrictions would be limited unless Republicans gained firm control of Congress. But the next president could have great influence over abortion policy if vacancies arise on the Supreme Court. If two seats held by liberal justices were filled by Romney-nominated conservatives, prospects for a reversal of Roe v. Wade would increase.
The stakes now are similar to what caused the U.S. to invade almost 11 years ago: the threat of more al-Qaida attacks.
Obama says U.S. forces must not leave until Afghan forces can defend the country on their own. Otherwise the Taliban would regain power and al-Qaida might again launch attacks from there. Rival Romney appears to share that view.
What's often overlooked in the "al-Qaida returns" scenario is an answer to this question: Why, after so many years of foreign help, are the Afghans still not capable of self-defense? And when will they be?
The official answer is by the end of 2014, when the U.S. and its allies plan to end their combat role. The Afghans will be fully in charge, or so it is hoped, and the war will be over, at least for Americans.