I believe that I speak for many American women when I say in response to last night’s debate (video below) that I do not want Senator McCain’s brand of “compassion,” and I sure as hell do not want his kind of “help.” I do not need him to help me have the “courage” to let him make my choices for me about my body.
When it comes to an unplanned pregnancy, the kind of “compassion” I want is not a paternalistic pat on the head. I don’t want to be told how hard this is as if I don’t already know, only to have it explained that for that reason, the decision has been made for me. The kind of compassion I want is the ability to make the right choice for me regarding that pregnancy and any assistance needed to be empowered to make it. It’s the same kind of compassion that I want for each and every woman on this planet, and it’s the kind that McCain is not willing to provide.
I’m tired of the condescension. Do many women who would prefer to not have an abortion need to be provided with the tools and resources they need to feel as though they can carry a pregnancy to term? Yes, absolutely, I’ve said as much and it’s the Democratic platform that is supporting such policies.
But providing resources to carry to term does not solve the problems of every unintended pregnancy. A woman who does not want a child, who does not want a child with the particular man she became pregnant with or has even been raped, who does not want a child at her age no matter how much money she has, who is finished with her childbearing, or who is facing a mental or physical health issue is not “helped” by the McCain “compassion” which would eliminate their access to abortion. And in any case, McCain doesn’t support programs that would do the things he claims he wants to do; that kind of “redistribution of wealth” is for socialists.
If you think that I’m using a lot of scare quotes, rest assured that I’m not the only one. Below is the video from last night’s debate, of McCain talking about his “compassion,” and at the end of the video using scare/air quotes to talk about those radical pro-abortion people.
Yes, you just watched John McCain put scare/air quotes around the word “health,” as in “health of the mother.”
Women’s health is so trivial to McCain that he can’t even force himself to spit out the word with a straight face. Considering the health of women when discussing the issue of abortion is ridiculous to Senator McCain, something he sees as the “extreme pro-abortion” position. And this should come as no surprise, after seeing this video by NARAL yesterday, which shows McCain stating his position that abortion should be illegal, and admitting his “understanding” that it would cause the deaths of many women.
I think it’s also extremely telling that in the above video clip from the debate, when Obama talks about making the option to carry to term a reality for more women, he talks about it in such a way that indicates he would like to provide resources to help her parent. McCain, on the other hand, explicitly discusses increased options for women considering abortion including not the ability to parent, but the “resources” to put the child they were forced to give birth to up for adoption to good, understanding “pro-life” people like him and Cindy. In fact, though he keeps using that word “help,” he doesn’t talk about helping women at all; he spends the entire time talking about the importance of their fetuses.
I sure as hell did not agree with every word that came out of Senator Obama’s mouth regarding abortion, but in the end what we got was the picture of a man who respects the health of women and their right to control their own bodies. What we got from Senator McCain was a clear picture of an extremist who disregards women’s autonomy and their very lives. And as a woman, yes, I do take that personally.
cross-posted at Feministe