Monday, October 20, 2008

McCain's "Air Quotes"

Much has been made of John McCain’s use of “Air Quotes” in the last presidential debate. The topic was abortion and discussion ensued between he and Barack Obama regarding the oft-repeated phrase “health of the mother.” We have been hearing these four words – “health of the mother” – in every debate, conversation and argument on the subject of abortion since the Supreme Court decided in the case “Roe V. Wade” in 1973. I would put forth that a general but accurate explanation of this phrase is that an abortion may not be denied under certain circumstances, one being a threat to the “health of the mother.”
Okay. Since abortion became a legal, medical procedure following the afore-mentioned Supreme Court decision and subsequent legislation, a little less than 50,000,000 (fifty million) abortions have occurred in the United States. That’s about 1.4 million per year, 4,000 per day or 1 every 21 seconds since 1973. If this does not astonish you then you are one of the people outraged by John McCain’s “insensitivity to the plight of women in this country.” Nancy Keenan, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, said in a statement, "His disregard for women's health caused a national gasp, as McCain let slip the truth about his extreme position on choice -- a reality he tends to save for speeches to his far-right base. If women in this country are still undecided, they won't be after watching last night's debate." Actually, this is true – on the left and the right. For Ms. Keenan to read in McCain’s response ‘disregard for women’s health’ is selfish, one-sided, one-issue propaganda. Please don’t believe her! In fact, the article that quoted her went on to conclude: “McCain supports overturning Roe, letting the states pass their own laws, and eventually ending abortion through more adoption and prevention of unwanted pregnancies.” Irrational, extreme, far-right?
I wish to make 3 points about this incident: 
Point 1: Many in this country are oh-so weary of “politics-as-usual.” The stump speeches are predictable, the exchanges guarded and the party line scripted. And finally a candidate “shoots from the hip” speaking directly and openly about an exceedingly tender and important issue and “all hell breaks loose.”  So much for reality. 
Point 2: In the wake of 50,000,000 abortions a rational person may conclude that a percentage of the women and men directly involved with these decisions may have lingering regrets. I am not suggesting they should; I am suggesting that any medical procedure that impacts 16% of our population is going to have some reverberation – both positive and negative. It is likely that many have lived peacefully through the process and continue to believe they made the correct decisions. Given the “weightiness” of the decision it is also likely that there are those who struggle quietly. Why does our society not talk about this? 
Point 3: I both understand and applaud John McCain for doing something so simply, intuitively and accurately. This “health of the mother” exception is a farce that has been used, abused and stretched beyond anyone’s wildest definition. John McCain was not being “insensitive to the plight of women in this country.” He was being honest. 
Finally, to Senator McCain's point: those who believe that each of the 50 million abortions performed in this country were to protect the "health of the mother" are wrong, out-of-touch with reality, unaccountable, despicable, partisan and deceptive.  If 99% of these abortions were performed for the "health of the mother" that means that the law has been broken 500,000 times. Who stands in the dock for these crimes?  I'd like to know. 
If you wish to read more about those who are insensitive to a large number of women, I suggest you go to NARAL (Pro-Choice America) and Planned Parenthood. "NOW!" 


Post a Comment

<< Home