Democracy Soup

Making sense out of the world of politics

John McCain sets a dangerous precedent on women’s health

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Originally published on on Fri, 10/17/2008 – 10:04am

Sometimes perceptions in politics are ambiguous, so the truth might be harder to see. But there was one wrong perception about the campaign this year that had the potential to prove damaging to Democrats in November.

“John McCain is pro-choice.”

Well, our readers know that McCain isn’t pro-choice at all. But what has been fascinating throughout the campaign is that many voters, undecided or truly independent or even Republican, really thought McCain was pro-choice.

Heck, Carly Fiorina earlier this summer said McCain had never signed on to overturn Roe vs. Wade (which wasn’t true).

After all, his views on Roe v. Wade in 1999 were quite unconventional by Republican standards. From the August 20, 1999, San Francisco Chronicle:

“But certainly in the short term, or even the long term, I would not support repeal of Roe v. Wade, which would then force X number of women in America to [undergo] illegal and dangerous operations.”

The McCain of 2008 feels much differently about Roe vs. Wade. From John McCain’s Web site:

“John McCain believes Roe v. Wade is a flawed decision that must be overturned… Constitutional balance would be restored by the reversal of Roe v. Wade, returning the abortion question to the individual states.”

Most undecided voters probably haven’t gone to either major candidate’s Web site, so they could rely on old memories, not realizing McCain has flip-flopped on the issue.

But the good news for the Democrats came wrapped in a bow during Wednesday night’s debate, courtesy of McCain:

“Just again, the example of the eloquence of Senator Obama. He’s health for the mother. You know, that’s been stretched by the pro-abortion movement in America to mean almost anything.”

If you weren’t sure where the GOP ticket stood on choice, you certainly found out in a hurry.

Unlike the Democratic Party ticket, where consistency has been there from Day 1, McCain and his running mate Sarah Palin have ongoing disagreements on abortion. McCain has said he would make exceptions for rape and incest, while Palin’s only exception is life of the mother.

The other woman in the McCain circle, Cindy McCain, told Katie Couric that she does NOT believe Roe vs. Wade should be overturned. Cindy McCain has also said she considers herself pro-life, and disagrees with Palin over exceptions for rape and incest.

In case you weren’t sure about John McCain’s position during the debate, the term “pro-abortion” hit the nail on the head. He used it twice in derogatory terms. McCain used air quotes for the word “health” of the mother.

Politically, the idea that McCain would have received votes based on misperceptions on his reproductive health stands would have been audacious. But if you were running the McCain campaign, you certainly wouldn’t want your candidate to be so brazen.

Chris Matthews attacked this right out of the box after the debate, saying it would hurt him with women who might have thought about voting for McCain. Well, this is true, but McCain has given up on attracting moderates at this point.

What is even more confusing from McCain is that his position on abortion allows exceptions for rape and incest — his own positions. Yet he mocks a woman’s health being an exception?

Barack Obama, just before McCain’s tirade, made a lot of sense to those on both sides of the issue. “Those are all things that we put in the Democratic platform for the first time this year, and I think that’s where we can find some common ground, because nobody’s pro-abortion. I think it’s always a tragic situation. We should try to reduce these circumstances.”

By sharp contrast, McCain said “that’s the extreme pro-abortion position, quote, ‘health.’ ”

Yes in 2008, a major party candidate said a woman’s health was an extreme position, and mocked the idea that women’s health is important.

McCain has been consistent on women’s health issues — in a very bad way. His voting record is littered with examples.

One of the best visuals of the campaign was when McCain couldn’t say “Viagra” or “birth control” when asked about whether it was fair that McCain voted against rules for health companies to cover birth control if they covered Viagra.

In 2008, assuming a man is going to be president of the United States, that president should be able to say the words “birth control” in a way unlike the way Ronald Reagan avoided the word “AIDS” for so many years.

And this line needs to come back in subsequent debates for many years to come. If we really have a major party that sneers at the health of more than 50% of the population, then the GOP have a more dangerous perspective than we could have ever imagined.

Abortion is an issue where people are going to disagree. Women’s health should be an unanimous consensus.


Written by democracysoup

October 17, 2008 at 10:04 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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