For PUMA voters, Independents and moderates alike… this is a MAJOR question when contemplating a vote for John McCain, and one that no one seems to be answering honestly.
Peeling back the pandering and the rhetoric, I will attempt to answer this genuinely difficult question… “What about Roe?”
I feel the need to make it EXPLICITLY CLEAR that I am PRO-CHOICE and UNWAIVERINGLY SO. I DO NOT want Roe v Wade overturned and think that, no matter the merits, it is a Stare Decisis decision at this point and should be judged accordingly. There are also plenty of cases that have affirmed Roe or affirmed it’s stare decisis status, so overturning it would be difficult at this point. It would go against a lot of precedent to do so.
Ok, so now that is out of the way, on the the rest…
Let’s be honest about this… John McCain is a conservative. That fact cannot be ignored nor should anyone pretend that he is anything but.
The question that everyone seems to be passing over without answering is “what kind of a conservative is he?”
The answer is that he is more like Barry Goldwater than he is George Bush.
John McCain is not a “neo-con” that is in bed with the religious right. He is not a “born again” Christian and he is not a fundamentalist Christian. He is a true conservative in that he has a big libertarian streak with the desire to limit the role of the Federal Government in local and personal issues.
Now, let’s clarify something… a person can be pro-choice and not support the Roe v Wade decision. These are two separate, but admittedly linked, issues.
The Roe v Wade decision states that laws against abortion violated a constitutional right to privacy under the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, that a woman had a right to an abortion up to the point where the fetus is viable outside of the womb and set up a “trimester” system. The decision overturned all state and federal laws outlawing or restricting abortion that were inconsistent with its holdings.
Ok, so now with that out of the way, what does John McCain believe about Roe v Wade, what does he want to do about it and why?
First, what does McCain believe about Roe v Wade?
John McCain believes that Roe v Wade is a flawed LEGAL decision.
For him, the problem he has with Roe is not really about the result of the decision (the legalization of “Choice”) but about the legal reasoning behind the decision. He believes that the Supreme Court basically invented a right to privacy and claimed to find it in the Due Process clause of the 14th Ammendment.
To be honest, even though I am staunchly pro-choice and believe that the result of the decision is the proper one, John McCain has a very good case and he is not entirely wrong.
The legal basis for the Roe v Wade decision is widely recognized as extremely weak and has been subject to criticism not only by the conservatives but even by famous liberal legal scholars such as Alan Dershowitz, Ruth Bader Ginsberg, Kermit (Kim) Roosevelt, and several others including Cass Sunstein, an Obama advisor no less. Simply put, the language Justice Blackmun infers from the Due Process clause in justifying the decision is a big stretch.
The Roe v Wade decision is probably the closest you can get to legitimately arguing that judges are “legislating from the bench” because of the tenuous legal basis upon which the decision is based and the sweeping result it had upon the population and culture of the United States.
As an aside, it is also interesting to note that Lawrence Tribe, Barack Obama’s mentor at Harvard Law, is among those highly critical of Roe. In light of this tidbit, the fact that Obama was going to vote for Roberts’ appointment and was prepared to lambast the Democrats for filibustering his appointment until a staffer informed him that it probably wouldn’t be a good idea is quite interesting.
Second, what does McCain want to do about it?
The answer to this is simple. He wants Roe v Wade overturned.
So what happens then? Is abortion automatically illegal?
No, no aboriton doesn’t become automatically illegal. (There are approximately 5 states, like Illinois, that have “trigger laws” that would make abortion illegal, but those were passed in the 70’s and many of those state are far more liberal now than they were then.)
So essentially, nothing happens immediately.
John McCain wants the issue sent back to the states so that they can decide for themselves, then the states decide for themselves and some may keep choice legal, and some may not… but the United States if FAR more socially liberal than it once was and a national ban is so unlikely as to be nearly impossible.
Third, why does McCain want it overturned?
Does McCain believe that life begins at conception? Absolutely. There is no question of that and he has been quite clear.
Is he Pro-Choice? To an extent, yes.
While he has a zero rating from Naral every year and is personally pro-life, he does believe that the states should decide for themselves. He will advocate for “life” at all times, but he is a true believer in Federalist principles and thinks that states should have the final say on the issue.
He has said more than once that he believes that life begins at conception, but that he supports the rights of others that disagree.
John McCain has also made it abundantly clear that while he is personally pro-life, his opposition to Roe is based upon the flawed reasoning behind the law and the over-reaching power of the bench rather than purely religious reasons.
This is where he diverges radically from people like George Bush and the Religious Right.
He also supports embryonic stem cell research, which is another great philosophical divide between McCain and the religious base of the Republican Party.
Now, we also have to remember that these things take time and a variety of factors have to click just right for Roe to get overturned, so it is not like the moment McCain gets elected that Roe is gone. First, a seat has to open up on the Supreme Court, something that the Roe screaming Obamabots seem to over look that this is not certain to happen, just a strong possibility. Then the appointee has to not moderate once on the bench (which does happen regularly.) Then a case has to work it’s way up through the courts that has the right merits to challenge Roe.
So this is what McCain believes, what he wants and why. Is this ideal? No, especially not for pro-choice women.
The question of Roe and voting for McCain is a hard one and I understand why. This was a landmark decision and one that even I don’t particularly want to have to fight again….
But here is my question to you… Is the women’s movement so atrophied that the terms Roe v Wade and Women’s Movement are now interchangable?
What about the right for women to aspire to the top positions in the country and not get called silly, dumb, a bitch or a bad parent? What about equality of women in the workplace and in the home? What about respect for women as people in the media, in the home and in the workplace?
If the women’s movement is more than just Roe v Wade and is more about gender equality and respect, then please explain to me how it is that Sarah Palin is not a giant step forward for women?
I am in no way saying that anyone should vote for Palin solely because of gender, anymore than I would advocate that people vote for Obama based on the color of his skin, but that people recognize her for what she symbolizes… a step forward, not backward.
What is most important to you is for you to decide.
Anyway, so there it is… what McCain believes and some food for thought.
I want to remind you that I am STAUNCHLY PRO-CHOICE and am a DEVOTED FEMINIST before you start commenting!
I want to hear from you, please tell me what you think and how you feel about this subject… just dont start yelling at me LOL.
This is cross-posted to No Quarter, where I am thrilled to be a contributor!