McCain Ridicules Women’s Health; Voters, Pundits Astonished

"In a race in which millions of dollars have been spent for the votes of
American women, McCain managed…to mock laws
protecting a woman’s right to sue for being paid less than a man, and
the notion that late-term abortions should be allowed in cases where a
mother’s health is threatened," the LA Times’s Cathleen Decker wrote after last night’s presidential debates.

Decker wasn’t the only one who thought by dismissing the notion that abortion to protect a woman’s health should be legal, McCain alienated the voters he had spent months courting.

On MSNBC, Rachel Maddow thought the line — "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" —
would hurt McCain, too. "I think the line that
someone is going to regret, one that will resonate and will hurt McCain
the most is when McCain ridiculed the idea that the life of the mother
should be a concern in the abortion debate. Women everywhere will
reflect on that – that they’ll be forced by the government to carry to
term and give birth. This will be seared on women’s minds: the
government is not going to excuse you, short of death, from giving
birth. It’s the extreme pro-abortion position," she said on Countdown.

Chris Matthews thought that trivializing the significance of the health exception wouldn’t gain McCain any women voters, either: "I believe that it was a big
mistake by John McCain tonight with regards to abortion rights. If it
was his goal to win over the Hillary voter, or younger women in Florida
or South East Pennsylvania, then what he said is not going to help him.
You can’t belittle the health exception with regard to abortion. You
can’t say the exception is ‘only her possible death.’ The health
exception is in Roe V. Wade and characterizing it in a diminutive way
is going to lose a lot of pro-choice women."

Talking Points Memo’s Joshua Marshall concurred: "[T]he part of the debate where Sen. McCain seemed to mock the issue of a woman’s health was weird and … well, kind of disgusting. It’s hard for me to see how’s he seriously pushing for the women’s vote."

Also on MSNBC, Politico’s Roger Simon remarked that Obama’s position "is not an
extreme pro-abortion position. It’s the position of the United States
Supreme Court…. I mean, Barack Obama’s not way off on the left on this
one. He’s supporting the law of the land."

The Boston Globe’s Political Intelligence blog reported that abortion rights advocates "slam[med]" McCain for his dismissal of the health exception. Said Nancy Keenan, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, "His disregard for women’s health caused a national gasp, as McCain let
slip the truth about his extreme position on choice — a reality he
tends to save for speeches to his far-right base."

Insta-polls seemed to agree with the pundits.  Jim Poniewozik at TIME wrote: "Dial group report 2: Um, Sen. McCain, women don’t like it when you put ‘health of the mother’ in air quotes."

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  • invalid-0

    Dear Mr. McCain,

    So, my concern for my own health is extreme, huh? My life is less important than the one I might hypothetically at some point bring forth from my womb? I mean, I know that your VP candidate, Sarah Palin, is supposedly very convincing, but did anyone tell you that her “no abortion ever in a million years, not that the Earth has been around that long” position on abortion only flies with about 10 percent of the population? Or were you too busy staring at her tits? I mean, it was pretty obvious that you weren’t listening to Obama when he talked about reducing the number of abortions through common-sense ideas like improving sex education, the opportunities for adoption and supporting women who want to have the children and keep them. But what the fuck, dude, for real? The fetus is more important that the woman in which it resides? Really?

    I mean, it’s not like maternal death is startlingly uncommon in America — as US News reported yesterday, 1 in 4,800 women in America dies in childbirth, compared to 1 in 48,000 in Ireland. So it is actually not outside the motherfucking question that it could happen to me someday, but it’s good to know that you’ll take a potential future motherless voter over a current voter any day of the week.

    And, even if I give try to you the benefit of the doubt and pretend like you were just talking about late term abortions during the debate last night, well, I can go read Gretchen Voss’s story about hers — why she had one, how it wasn’t avoidable and how ridding the world of such procedures would have made her life much harder. And then I’m back to wondering where you — and I — went wrong.

    My health is NOT an extreme position.