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Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Think You Know John McCain?

His eye-opening conservative record on reproductive issues

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The maverick who claims to cross party lines is anything but moderate on the subject of reproductive rights. Sen. John McCain, the likely Republican nominee for president, wants to overturn Roe v. Wade and add a constitutional amendment that would ban abortion, doesn’t want to require insurance companies to cover contraception, supports abstinence-only sex ed and wants to prevent international family planning clinics from discussing abortion.

Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Action Fund, said that in some ways McCain is even more conservative than President George Bush. Her organization gave McCain a 0% rating—“only because there is nothing lower than zero”—for his consistent votes in Congress that work against reproductive health.

“I think it’s really clear that he’s out of touch on women’s health needs,” said Richards, who visited Milwaukee last week. But Richards said that many voters are not aware of McCain’s true record on women’s health because he’s been so successful in casting himself as a maverick who’s willing to work with moderates on difficult issues.

According to Planned Parenthood’s February survey of more than 1,000 women in 16 battleground states— including Wisconsin—about half of these voters didn’t know McCain’s position on abortion. Yet 49% of pro-McCain women voters are pro-choice. And four in 10 of these women voters said they would be less likely to support McCain because of his opposition to health-care services that reduce pregnancy and his opposition to abortion.

Richards said that McCain’s conservative positions on reproductive rights and health care could cost him critical support in important swing states such as Wisconsin. “The next president will be elected by women, because more women vote,” Richards said. “When you look at the issues women focus on before they vote, the affordability and accessibility of health care is an enormous issue, not only for themselves but for their families and their children. So when you look at a candidate that has actually put in roadblocks and voted against having more affordable health care, including reproductive health care, this is a serious, bread-and-butter issue. It has an impact on every voter in the state of Wisconsin.”

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