Arianna Huffington wrote an article in the Huffington Post the other day about common misconceptions of McCain's stance on reproductive rights.
She begins by noting that there are a number of Clinton supporters who have said they would rather vote for McCain than Obama in November (or not vote at all), should Obama win the nomination.
She then points out that the policy differences between Clinton and Obama are minor compared with those between both Democrats and McCain - and that nowhere is this more profound than in the area of reproductive rights:
I was in Seattle last week giving a speech at a fundraising lunch for Votes! Washington, the political arm of Planned Parenthood in Washington State. At the event, the group's CEO Elaine Rose told me about a poll that Planned Parenthood had commissioned of women in 16 battleground states [pdf]. The results are startling:
Over half of all women in these states have no idea what McCain's positions are on reproductive health. Forty-nine percent of women in battleground states who currently favor McCain are pro-choice. Twenty-three percent of them believe McCain agrees with them on choice.
The good news is, 36 percent of pro-choice McCain supporters are less likely to vote for him after learning that McCain opposes Roe v. Wade and favors making most abortions illegal. That number hits 38 percent when those voters learn that McCain has also consistently voted against expanding access to programs that reduce pregnancy and the need for abortion, consistently voted in favor of abstinence-only programs, and against legislation requiring insurance companies to cover birth control.
She then goes on to say:
Since 1983, in votes in the House and the Senate (where he has served since 1987), McCain has cast 130 votes on abortion and other reproductive-rights issues. 125 of those votes were anti-choice [pdf]. Among his voting lowlights:
- He has repeatedly voted to deny low-income women access to abortion care except in cases of rape, incest, or danger to the mother's life (although McCain is now wavering on trying to put these exceptions into the party platform).
- He voted to shut down the Title X family-planning program, which provides millions of women with health care services ranging from birth control to breast cancer screenings.
- He voted against legislation that established criminal and civil penalties for those who use threats and violence to keep women from gaining access to reproductive health clinics.
- He voted to uphold the policy that bans overseas health clinics from receiving aid from America if they use their own funds to provide legal abortion services or even adopt a pro-choice position.
- Of his anti-choice voting record, McCain has said, "I have many, many votes and it's been consistent," proudly adding: "And I've got a consistent zero from NARAL" through the years. And last month he told Chris Matthews: "The rights of the unborn is one of my most important values."
What's more, McCain has made it very clear that if he becomes president he will appoint judges in the Scalia, Roberts, Alito mold. His big judicial speech earlier this month was filled with coded buzz words that make it clear that, if given the chance, he'd replace 88-year-old Justice John Paul Stevens with an anti-choice Justice who would tip the scales against Roe v Wade. Throw in an additional anti-choice replacement for the 75-year-old Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and you can kiss the right to choose good-bye for a long, long time.
The full article is here - Unmasking McCain: His Reactionary Record on Reproductive Rights - with lots of useful links for more info.
I think it's an important consideration for anyone who's pro-choice - whether they're a Democrat or a Republican. If John McCain wins in November, there's a very real risk that Roe vs Wade will be overturned - and women across the country would be looking at a return to the bad old days of backstreet abortions, with all the health risks that that implies.
On his website, John McCain says:
John McCain believes Roe v. Wade is a flawed decision that must be overturned, and as president he will nominate judges who understand that courts should not be in the business of legislating from the bench.
Constitutional balance would be restored by the reversal of Roe v. Wade, returning the abortion question to the individual states. The difficult issue of abortion should not be decided by judicial fiat.
You can read McCain's whole statement here - John McCain: Overturning Roe v. Wade
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