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It started in the earliest days of his political career, when he was a congressman. John McCain paid an unscheduled visit to Planned Parenthood in his district and went on a rant that sent frantic workers to the phones asking for help. McCain, screaming so loudly that he scared patients and workers alike, claimed he would “shut the place down.” All this was because he mistakenly thought that paper to contact  their congressmen about abortion rights, was being paid for by federal funds. Such began the career of John Sidney McCain and the right to choose.

Why is this important you ask? Because Mac has tried to play a sly game of “where do I come down on pro-choice” for many a year, hoping to confuse just enough people to get votes he would never get if they knew the truth. Indeed, nearly half of all women supporting McCain claim to be pro-choice and are shocked to learn he isn’t. Just that good has been his campaign of obfuscation, something McCain has honed over the years on many issues.

It was especially in the forefront in 2000 when McCain sought to gain access to the middle, given that Dubya had secured the religious right with his anti-right to choose stance. During that campaign we got such platitudes as this:

“[I’d] love to see a point where [Roe] is irrelevant, and could be repealed because abortion is no longer necessary. … 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.” 

He further wanted the GOP platform for that election cycle to revert back to 1980 language, which:

“. . . recognize[d] differing views on this question among Americans in general–and in our own Party.”

Of course, McCain is strangely silent on abortion today. This is by design. He is more than happy to hope that numbers of women and men for that matter who are pro-choice are confused and believe that he is at least moderate on the subject. Nothing of course could be further from the truth, and when pushed, McCain will have to admit that or risk losing the entire religious right.

Virtually nobody who knows him well, and has worked for him since the beginning thinks otherwise either. He is against the pro-choice position unanimously. Some however, see his position on stem-cell research as indicating that he is more moderate. Such is simply not the case. It more probably reflects that McCain is quite simply not very bright and cannot see the connection between the two positions. Encounters with reporters questions, which  follow, support the argument that much of this discussion is a bit above his mental acuity.

When a reporter asked him whether  he thought it fair that insurance companies covered Viagra but not birth control, and why he voted against legislation requiring them to cover it, he first said he “didn’t want to discuss the issue,” and then finally retorted, “I don’t know enough about it to give you an informed answer.” So flummoxed did he become that he ended by claiming he couldn’t remember how he voted.  In response to a question of whether he thought contraception helped prevent HIV infection, he drooped and lamented, “You’ve stumped me.”

This coupled with his back and forth attitude about whether he would consider a pro-choice running mate (Tom Ridge to be specific) all goes to show quite clearly that McCain is uninformed to a great extent and is trying to play both sides of the street in hopes of continuing to confuse voters.

The facts are these:

  • Of 130 Reproductive health issues votes he has cast in his time in Congress, 125 have been on the side of those favoring restrictions on abortion.
  • He has voted to give in utero fetuses rights to be viewed as a legal victim of crime and also to cover them under SChip.
  • He has voted to prohibit federal funds to international groups that run family planning clinics if they do abortions, give information about abortions, or help procure them.
  • He has voted for pro-life federal judge nominees.
  • He voted against allowing medicare to cover abortions for cases of rape and incest, although he was one of only 18 senators who did so.
  • He voted against the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act, after an abortion provider was gunned down in 1994. Many moderate Republicans voted for it. Voting against it with McCain were Orrin Hatch and Jesse Helms.
  • PPH and Naral consistently give him a zero rating.
  • He has voted to end Title X family planning, because among all their other services they tend to offer abortion counseling, abortions and contraception.
  • He has backed the abstinence-only funding even though it has been  utterly discredited as effective in reducing pregnancy, STD’s and abortions.
  • He has supported parental notification requirements not only for abortions by teens but also for contraception.

Moreover, McCain, many claim, is not even open to discussing these issues. He refuses to meet with groups even on issues of family planning. He leaves them waiting forever in waiting rooms and otherwise is rude and downright nasty when he is engaged in general conversation. He continues to avoid the subject entirely preferring to use the code words “judicial activism” to assure his right-wing backers that he is firmly in their court. His “Judicial advisory board” is chock full of pro-lifers as well.

Let no woman or man be confused. John McCain will do what ever he can to repeal Roe v. Wade and otherwise limit women’s right to choose. I am deeply indebted to The New Republic and Sarah Blustain, for much of the information above. Please follow the link and read her report in full. It is chilling to those who believe that every woman has the right to choose.