John McCain: Openly Scoffing at Your Health

by Cara on October 16, 2008

in 2008 election, abortion, anti-choice extremism, assholes, Democrats, media, misogyny, paternalism, politics, reproductive justice, Republicans, women’s health

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

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{ 11 comments }

1 SunlessNick October 16, 2008 at 12:28 pm

And as a woman, yes, I do take that personally.

As you fucking should.

Yes, you just watched John McCain put scare quotes around the word “health,” as in “health of the mother.”

Repulsive turd. (Him, not you, obviously).

2 molly October 16, 2008 at 1:10 pm

I work for NARAL Pro-Choice America and I just wanted to make sure you saw the web video we released about Mccain mocking women’s health with “air quotes.”

3 Melissa October 16, 2008 at 2:58 pm

This is amazing. The “health” of the mother. WOW. Are the mainstream news outlets picking up on this?

4 Rachel October 16, 2008 at 3:27 pm

When I was watching the post-debate coverage last night, Rachel Maddow pointed out that he pretty much lost the whole debate just with the scare quotes about the health of pregnant women.

But none of us should be surprised, guys and gals, cause we all know that anti-choice Republicans like John McCain, (whose only consistency is being anti-choice and anti-woman) DON’T CARE ABOUT THE HEALTH OF PREGNANT WOMEN. We know this. We know this because they cut funding to help poor women take care of themselves during their pregnancies. Now everyone else knows it.

Frankly, I think that this gaffe, if we can call it that, was bad for John McCain but good for America and American women especially — because people won’t put up with it.

5 Cara October 16, 2008 at 4:15 pm

Melissa — other than HuffPo, this is the one and only article I’ve found. And it’s, um, a blog post on their website. If the media’s talking about abortion at all, they’re talking about the Supreme Court question — mainly, they’re interested in Joe the Plumber.

6 Melissa October 16, 2008 at 4:54 pm

yeah – I looked around after I asked that and was not able to find it on any of the mainstream sites. Not that that really suprises me. But I really hope there was a lot of women that saw that and it made them think, especially if they really somehow thought that the Rep ticked is “feminist”.

7 aerdrie October 16, 2008 at 6:25 pm

Melissa on October 16, 2008 2:58 pm

This is amazing. The “health” of the mother. WOW. Are the mainstream news outlets picking up on this?

Yes, they are, thankfully. Chris Matthews, specifically.

8 SunlessNick October 16, 2008 at 6:28 pm

The BBC website had a blow-by-blow of the debate, and one of the live commentators mentioned it. Not much, but he also used the word mock to characterise McCain’s attitude, and found it disgusting.

9 SarahSimone October 17, 2008 at 1:16 pm

I really really hope this makes people realize how little McCain cares for the health and safety of women. Oh, I’m sorry the “health” and “safety” of women. What a condescending ass. I’m feeling very hopeful about Obama’s chances but the thought that McCain could still win terrifies me to the depths of my soul.

10 Erin October 17, 2008 at 2:51 pm

This part of the debate made me sick. I was so glad that this topic finally came up in the debates and was greatly disturbed by McCain’s attitude and words. It really bothered me that he kept saying “These young women need ‘help’ as if the only people who seek abortions are young, confused, whores who want to kill their babies. Disgusting. And he kept saying “Pro-Abortion” I love how Obama put him in check and said “No one is pro-abortion.”

11 jovan byars October 17, 2008 at 5:06 pm

McCain, the GOP and the Taliban are all on the same side when it comes to women’s rights. They all hate women. That is one more reason why we must vote for Obama on November 4.

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