Pro-choice activists yawned at the “news” that John McCain was endorsed yesterday by Wisconsin Right to Life. After all, the guy has been one of the most extreme anti-choice votes in Congress – voting against birth control, abortion rights, and reproductive health care 125 out of 130 times over his Washington career.
McCain, contrary to the image his cynical marketing juggernaut has created, is neither a moderate, nor a maverick. (Discuss amongst yourselves.) Not when it comes to reproductive rights and women’s health.
Let’s look more closely at the REAL McCain: In 2006, McCain co-sponsored the Federal Abortion Ban, a law that criminalized some abortion services even when a woman’s health was endangered. In this campaign, McCain put it more bluntly than Bush ever did, saying, “I do not support Roe v. Wade. I think it should be overturned.” These are not the words of a moderate candidate – the vast majority of Americans support Roe and do not want to go back to the bad old days of back-alley abortions where women were treated like criminals.
So McCain’s no moderate. But what about a maverick? One might hope that McCain’s so-called independent streak would prompt him to buck his anti-birth control conservative counterparts and vote for measures that actually prevent unintended pregnancy. In today’s Republican party, such common-sense support for birth control and honest sex education would indeed be maverick. Yet McCain continually votes against contraception and family planning access! In fact, he also pushed legislation to throw millions more tax dollars down the rabbit hole of failed abstinence-only programs, even though they’re proven to lead to riskier sexual behavior (read: unprotected oral and anal sex) among young people.
We’re not hopeful that McCain will get wiser as he ages – he’s had plenty of time already, and just keeps getting worse for women’s rights. It is time for the pro-choice majority to speak up and recognize this “moderate maverick” caricature for what it really is – a lie. If Wisconsin Right to Life, one of the most extreme, dangerously anti-choice organizations in the country can see the Real McCain, so should we.