What scares me most about McCain, beyond our 100-year presence in Iraq, his itchy trigger finger relative to other foes, and his enthusiasm for tax cuts for the rich, is his fiercely conservative record on women's reproductive freedom. Here, there is no moderate McCain or reach-across-the-aisle McCain. On issues related to abortion and even birth control and sex education, McCain is as ideological as any Operation Rescue activist crawling around in front of an abortion clinic.
McCain's voting record is solidly antichoice. He said directly in South Carolina that Roe "should be overturned" and strongly reiterates that position on his campaign Web site. He told the American Conservative Union that one of the three most important goals that he wants to achieve as president is to promote "a nation of traditional values that protects the rights of the unborn."
In accordance with these views, McCain promises to "nominate strict constructionist judges," which is code for "will overturn Roe if given half a chance."
This is true. On McCain's website, if you go to "Issues" -> "Human Dignity", it brings you to this page. A sampling:
John McCain believes Roe v. Wade is a flawed decision that must be overturned, and as president he will nominate judges who understand that courts should not be in the business of legislating from the bench. Constitutional balance would be restored by the reversal of Roe v. Wade, returning the abortion question to the individual states. The difficult issue of abortion should not be decided by judicial fiat.
NARAL has an entire page up about McCain's consistent votes against reproductive rights.
Sen. John McCain served in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1983 to 1986 and in the U.S. Senate from 1987 to present. During his four years in the House, then-Rep. McCain cast 11 votes on abortion and other reproductive-rights issues. Ten of these votes were anti-choice. In the Senate, through 2006, Sen. McCain cast 117 votes on abortion and other reproductive-rights issues, 113 of which were anti-choice.
NARAL almost yearly produces a numerical score of how "pro-choice" a politician is, based on how they voted on issues of reproductive choice that year. For the years in which they gave those scores, McCain consistently scored abysmally (warning: PDF), with an average of 2% over 15 years in the Senate. If you tally in all the anti-choice votes he made in the years when they didn't produce a score, then he'd get an even lower number.
All that's bad enough. But this is probably the worst part (outside of the comments):
An intelligent person might think that someone as rabidly antiabortion as McCain would be backing approaches to prevent unwanted pregnancies, thereby, ipso facto, fewer abortions. Well, think again.
McCain is an antagonist of sensible family planning and effective sex education. In 2005, he voted "no" on a $100-million allocation for preventive health care services targeted at reducing unintended pregnancies, particularly teen pregnancies. In 2006, he voted against funding for comprehensive, medically accurate sex education for teens.
McCain is much more comfortable with President Bush's wasteful and utterly ineffective abstinence-only approach.
The New York Times Web site reported the following exchange with a reporter in Iowa in March 2007:
Q: "What about grants for sex education in the United States? Should they include instructions about using contraceptives? Or should it be Bush's policy, which is just abstinence?"
McCain: (Long pause) "Ahhh. I think I support the president's policy."
Q: "So no contraception, no counseling on contraception. Just abstinence. Do you think contraceptives help stop the spread of HIV?"
McCain: (Long pause) "You've stumped me."
Abstinence-only education at work!