Hillary backers, consider this: McCain wants to roll back choice
Today, I sit at my desk pessimistic that she will not go down in history as the brilliant trailblazer she is, and rather she will be remembered as the woman who wouldn’t give up and lost.
But the political reality is that none of that matters anymore. What matters is that this is a crucial political tipping point. To Hillary supporters who want their candidate's values represented, nothing should matter more than putting the Democratic candidate, Barack Obama, in office. Nowhere is this more true than on the issue of reproductive choice.
Unfortunately, my mom -- and many of the women of her generation -- don't see it that way. To these descendants of the Baby Boomer age, Hillary, not Obama, represents change.
They remember a time when women were limited professionally and dependent upon men for their livelihood. Getting a college degree likely left you with a working class job as a nurse, social worker or teacher. If you couldn’t go to school, you were sure to be a waitress, store clerk or secretary.
And, it is for this reason, along with many others, some of these women say they would rather vote for John McCain than Obama. They think Hillary worked hard to get where she is, that her experience makes her deserving of the office, and that her loss to a candidate they perceive as less experienced is just one more example of how pervasive and cross-cutting sexism still is in our society.
Maybe they’re right. But this is no time to take a stand that could undermine women's issues for decades. My wish is that they remember one thing: the bloody coat hanger.
Let me make this loud and clear. If John McCain is elected president he will work until his dying day to overturn Roe v. Wade. And, with an aged Supreme Court, there’s a good chance he could. Express Milwaukee writer Lisa Kaiser explains:
Elections have consequences," ...John McCain said last week." One of the consequences is the president of the United States gets to name his or her nominees to the bench.”
That statement sent a shiver down the spines of many voters, not only because President George W. Bush has tipped the U.S. Supreme Court decidedly to the right, but because Justice John Paul Stevens just turned 88 on April 20.
Whoever is elected president will likely appoint Stevens' successor—and perhaps other Supreme Court justices, since Ruth Bader Ginsburg is 75, Antonin Scalia is 72 and Anthony Kennedy will turn 72 this summer.
Better than anyone else, it is the women of this generation that understand abortion isn’t going anywhere -- regardless of what the law is. They are the ones who watched their friends bleed out on the dorm room floor. They are the ones who stayed up late at night holding a sister's hand as she lay near death on a dusty old couch because some illegitimate “doctor” sliced her open in someone’s basement. It is these women who know first hand that criminalizing abortion doesn't eliminate the practice. The fact of the matter is, what outlawing abortion really does is deny women adequate health services and put them at increased medical risk.
Why is it then, that these women, who have seen so much, don't seem to understand McCain’s ultimate influence over their reproductive health? A Planned Parenthood poll of some 1,205 women in 16 battleground ground states found that more than half have no idea what McCain’s stance is on the issue.
In fact, forty-nine percent of the women who favor McCain are pro-choice and 23 percent ignorantly believe that McCain is on their side. There is some good news though, as Arianna Huffington of The Huffington Post reports:
... 36 percent of pro-choice McCain supporters are less likely to vote for him after learning that McCain opposes Roe v. Wade and favors making most abortions illegal. That number hits 38 percent when those voters learn that McCain has also consistently voted against expanding access to programs that reduce pregnancy and the need for abortion, consistently voted in favor of abstinence-only programs, and against legislation requiring insurance companies to cover birth control. …Clearly, when it comes to this key issue, the more voters learn about McCain, the less they like him.
So it appears some schooling is in order. Per Huffington, a round up of McCain’s "voting lowlights":
- Denying low-income women access to abortion care except in cases of rape, incest, or danger to the mother's life (although McCain is now wavering on trying to put these exceptions into the party platform).
- Shutting down the Title X family-planning program, which provides millions of women with health care services ranging from birth control to breast cancer screenings.
- Opposing legislation that established criminal and civil penalties for those who use threats and violence to keep women from gaining access to reproductive health clinics.
- Banning overseas health clinics from receiving aid from America if they use their own funds to provide legal abortion services or even adopt a pro-choice position.
And so I say to my mother and the rest of the confused Baby Boomers who are at a loss of who to vote for: vote Obama. Do it for your gender.
I too am sorry that Hillary will not be the next president of the United States. I too think it is tragic that you might never see a female president in your lifetime. But, at the age of 25, I’m hopeful that I will; women like Hillary have brought us closer to that day.
And I think we'll get closer with each passing year -- as long someone like John McCain isn’t given the opportunity to take back decades of all your hard work.