Home / General / McCain and Abortion: The Dance of Disingenuousness Continues

McCain and Abortion: The Dance of Disingenuousness Continues


John McCain has come out for overturning Roe. Frankly, I’m not sure what this tells us that we didn’t already know. McCain has already expressed support for the draconian ban in South Dakota, and voted to confirm Robert Bork and Samuel Alito. And in case inexplicable McCain apologist Jon Chait once again mentions that McCain “said that if his daughter wanted an abortion, he would leave the decision up to her,” I note that the fact that McCain wouldn’t dream of applying general bans on abortion to people in his social circles doesn’t make him a pro-choicer; it makes him a Republican. John McCain’s daughter won’t have a problem getting an abortion whether Roe is good law or not, but a lot of other women won’t be so lucky. Social conservatism for thee-but-not-for-me is pretty much what social conservatism means in this country.

And his justification for supporting the overturning of Roe is also classically dishonest:

MCCAIN: I don’t think a constitutional amendment is probably going to take place, but I do believe that it’s very likely or possible that the Supreme Court should — could overturn Roe v. Wade, which would then return these decisions to the states, which I support.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And you’d be for that?

MCCAIN: Yes, because I’m a federalist. Just as I believe that the issue of gay marriage should be decided by the states, so do I believe that we would be better off by having Roe v. Wade return to the states. And I don’t believe the Supreme Court should be legislating in the way that they did on Roe v. Wade.

It’s not just that the idea that overturning Roe would “return the issue to the states” is a pernicious myth, and invoking federalism is just question-begging, because if a fundamental right is involved preventing states from legislation isn’t necessarily an intrusion on the powers of states. (It’s the status of reproductive rights, not federalism, that does the important work here.) It’s more than that: nothing in McCain’s own record suggests that he thinks abortion should be left to the states. He had voted for nation-wide “partial birth” bans at least 6 times. He voted to deny the use of military facilities for women in the military who needed abortions. He voted for this year’s Fugitive Uterus Act. Indeed, given his 0% NARAL rating, he apparently has yet to meet a federal regulation of abortion he doesn’t like. So while I suppose it might be possible in the abstract to oppose Roe on “federalist” grounds, in McCain’s case it’s a pathetically disingenuous dodge. The brutal truth is that McCain clearly, unambiguously opposes abortion rights, and has no objection to federal restrictions of these rights, no matter what his centrist fans try to project onto him.

…and Lindsay reminds us that he supports a constitutional amendment banning abortion. I’m not sure if it’s the Human Life Amendment in the GOP platform–which would make abortion first degree murder in all 50 states–but it certainly renders the “federalism” dodge an even more ridiculous lie.

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