Sarah Blustain has a long piece in The New Republic to come out later this month that eliminates any confusion about John McCain’s position on choice. Ever since his run for the presidency in 2000, when he indicated he might choose a pro-choice running mate, many people have thought that McCain was moderate on choice. Not so:
But, as on abortion, both data and anecdote show there is little latitude in his positions. He has voted to end the Title X family-planning program, which pays for everything from birth control to breast cancer screenings and which is a target for the right because the recipients of these dollars also tend to be clinics that offer contraception to unwed and underage women and that offer abortions. He has backed largely discredited abstinence-only education, voting in 1996 to take $75 million from the Maternal and Child Health Block Grant to establish such a program; ten years later, he voted against teen-pregnancyprevention programs. He has supported parental notification laws governing not only abortion but contraception for teens, and, though he didn’t want to talk to the press about it, he’s voted against requiring insurance companies to cover birth control. In international family affairs, McCain has voted not only in favor of the global gag rule, but also to defund the United Nations group that provides family-planning services (not abortions) for poor women, and to spend a third of overseas HIV/AIDS prevention funds on abstinence education.
Blustain reports that McCain has voted with anti-choice groups 125 out of 130 times and has voted in favor of judges that support overturning Roe v. Wade. Wonk Room has a good summary of McCain’s positions on women’s issues.
As Blustain points out in the piece, some Clinton supporters may be tempted to vote for McCain because they misunderstand his position on choice. But as she reports, “One June poll found that, when Democratic women voters in twelve battleground states learned McCain’s position on abortion, Obama gained twelve points among them.” This means that McCain’s stance on choice has huge implications for the upcoming election. For once, choice could truly impact a national race.