Wednesday, March 19, 2008

McCain the Maverick? Not on Reproductive Rights.

There are a good number of people in this country that view John McCain as a bit of a maverick, a man who is willing to stand up to the Republican party has a whole, cross the isle in search of effective compromise, and stand behind his own beliefs even when they conflict with the dominant views of the party. This may very well be true with regard to some issues, but despite some public misconceptions to the contrary, reproductive rights certainly isn't one of them. There are some who have, due to McCain's image as a maverick, taken him to be pro-choice, or at least less anti-choice then the likes of far-righties like G.W. Bush, Mike Huckabee, etc. NARAL has started up a website where you can, according to them, meet the real McCain. And if you follow the links in search of info on McCain's record, you'll be led to a compilation of McCain's anti-choice votes and statements.

If you read through that list, you might be surprised to discover that:

*McCain is staunchly anti-choice, openly in favor of overturning Roe, and determined to nominate judges who will ignore the rights of women.

*McCain has voted to support abstinence-only education programs, which have been shown to be ineffective and often involve disseminating falsehoods to kids. He's also voted for substantial funding for such programs to be allocated from the fund for HIV/AIDS. That means that rather then putting our money toward effective means of reducing HIV/AIDS in areas of the world that are experiencing a devestating epidemic, the money is being wasted on ineffective, and dogmatically motivated, programs.

*McCain has voted to support the global gag rule, which precludes any openly pro-choice international organization from obtaining federal funds, even if they use non-federal money to provide abortion services or do not offer such services at all. This prevents these organizations from giving much needed family planning and women's health services to some of the poorest women in the world, and places a burden on other organizations which they may not be able to meet, thus leaving women out in the cold.

*McCain has voted against measures that would make birth control more accessible to women, and has actually voted for parental notification laws that would make it more difficult for teens to access birth control.

*McCain voted to end Title X, which provides women in need with all sorts of medical services, from birth control to vaccinations to cancer screenings.

Now, even if you're opposed to legal abortion, you've got to admit that McCain's record is not just anti-choice, but clearly unconcerned with the reproductive rights and reproductive health of women here in America and around the world. Unless your place on the ideological spectrum has you nestled between Dubya and Pat Robertson, some of McCain's record is going to leave a bad taste in your mouth. After all, if you're interested in reducing abortions, increasing access to and knowledge about contraceptives should be at the top of your list. It's not at the top of McCain's. If you're worried about the AIDS crisis in Africa, then making sure that we are funding programs that have the greatest effectiveness in reducing the transmission of HIV/AIDS should be one of your concerns. It's not one of McCain's. If securing the rights and improving the health of women in the US and around the world is something that is important to you, McCain may not be your candidate, because his record clearly demonstrates that it's not important to him.

McCain may have the image of an ideological maverick, but when it comes to reproductive rights and women's health he's right in line with the far right. We should all be aware of that fact when we enter the voting booth this November.

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