John McCain, Are You Kidding Me With This?

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My name is Julianne Bukey. I’€™m a senior at Scripps College, and I’€™m working for the summer at NARAL Pro-Choice Wisconsin. You may have seen this video of me asking John McCain a question about insurance coverage for birth control at a McCain Town Hall meeting in Racine, Wisconsin on Thursday, July 31, 2008.

Once again, Sen. McCain demonstrated how out of touch he is when it comes to insurance coverage for basic health care. Recently, a reporter had asked him about this subject, and he didn’€™t have any policy other than supporting no action. In a news story on CNN that followed, his campaign is quoted as saying insurance coverage of contraception should be ‘€œup to the individual.’€ I read that to mean that he believes that if an individual wants coverage, she should be able to choose it. Wait a minute ‘€“ that’€™s what we want! But McCain has voted against legislation to ensure insurance companies cover birth control the same way they cover other prescription medications.

Now, he’€™s saying that it’€™s up to the entity paying for the health insurance. Does this mean that depending on who my employer is, THEY get to decide whether I can get birth control? That’€™s not ‘€œup to the individual’€ ‘€“ that’€™s saying it’€™s up to a bureaucrat who pays the health insurance bill. So, if an adult college student (like me), is on her parents’€™ insurance (like me), should my doctor have to check with my parents’€™ boss at work to find out if my birth control is covered?

In any case, McCain is standing by his extreme record of being against access to birth control. He’€™s clearly okay with the idea that insurance companies cover Viagra for men, but not birth control for women.

Since birth control is essential not only to help woman plan their pregnancies, but also necessary to treat a range of health conditions, this is an incredibly backward position. Access to affordable birth control prevents unintended pregnancy and the need for abortion. Would McCain prefer that there be more abortions?

I guess the thing that worries me most is his clear lack of interest in even discussing the issue (witness his really short answer and how quickly he moves to another subject). Not only does it show he simply doesn’€™t get it, he almost acts squeamish ‘€“ do we really need a president who’€™s too squeamish to talk about birth control? Tens of millions of American women rely on birth control ‘€“ in fact, access to birth control is widely believed to be the number-one factor in women being able to make gains towards equity in the workplace. If a candidate for president can’€™t talk about birth control, he’€™s not fit to lead us.

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