I didn’t watch the debate on Wed. night, so I have little background to understand the context of Senator McCain’s discussion of abortion beyond what I read from various people who live-blogged the debate. That is admittedly incomplete. From what I can piece together, this blog entry at Flotsam (link via Dooce) is an excellent rebuttal to McCain’s attitude. But I wish to point out one flaw in the entry:
McCain states that he would deal with the issue of abortion with “courage and compassion.” I quote: “the courage of a pregnant mother to bring her child into the world and the compassion of civil society to meet her needs and those of her newborn baby.” As if terminating my pregnancy would be the easy way out, the way not requiring his precious “courage.” As if dictating my medical care based upon his religious beliefs is compassionate. And I find it interesting to note that his “compassion” for this newborn does not extend to guaranteeing it health insurance.
First, McCain is pandering on abortion. I do not believe he cares. He’s trying to secure the Republican base with a few well-rehearsed lies. That makes him a scumbag, but for his pandering, not his position.
More importantly, the issue at stake is the right to control one’s own body, an issue I care deeply about. As much as I personally do not like abortion, I recognize that this is the issue involved. That matters as a principle of individual liberty. I believe it’s incomplete as an absolute when considering abortion, but not in a self-evident, attack-proof manner. It’s a complicated issue that will never be clear enough for a definitive policy. Therefore, we must err on the side of the individual with the clearer claim. Restrictions based on science are not abhorrent, but abortion should be legal, generally.
I do not get how that right to control one’s own body creates a right to have someone else provide material support (i.e. money for medical insurance) to care for the child. If a woman and her partner make the choice to have a child, it’s their obligation to support the child. In not guaranteeing health insurance, McCain is correct. His stated position is more logically consistent in that he’s saying people choosing to have children are responsible for everything involved, from start to finish, which is different from this blogger’s apparent belief that individual’s are responsible for the good (children, yay!), while society is responsible for at least some of the bad (health care expenses, boo!). No. This is a cheap straw man.
McCain is wrong on abortion. Attack that. He is cruel because he uses air quotes where compassion and understanding are necessary. Attack that. But he is not cruel because he won’t offer “free” health insurance.