Far-Right Controls McCain, Plays Both Sides on Abortion

Scott Swenson

The far-right controls John McCain's VP selection, the GOP Platform, and now is trying to have it both ways on abortion as they use Sarah Palin to appeal to conservatives, and Cindy McCain to confuse pro-choice voters. They want to control you.

The fact that John McCain was prohibited from selecting Joe Lieberman or Tom Ridge to be his running mate, thus making a last minute risky decision on Sarah Palin, doesn’t just tell us about John McCain’s temperament and judgment, it underscores what pro-choice people have been warning Americans about for years. 

The far-right is all about control.

Control over you, your body, your private family health decisions, your ability to worship freely, your relationships, your ability to rely on scientific information and trained medical professionals. In John McCain’s case, control over his choice for running mate.  As many in the media have reported, McCain was threatened with open revolt in St. Paul if he chose Lieberman or Ridge, so at the last minute, made the risky choice of Sarah Palin. Of course outwardly the story line is all about maverick soul mates finding each other in one fifteen minute conversation.

But as the GOP convention continues to unfold, it appears that the choice of Sarah Palin may also be an
intentional effort to confuse moderates by making McCain more palatable when compared to Palin who is
as extreme as possible on abortion rights; denying even rape and incest
victims the choice not to carry a violent pregnancy to term.

Like This Story?

Your $10 tax-deductible contribution helps support our research, reporting, and analysis.

Donate Now

In her convention speech Wednesday night, Palin didn’t once mention the reason she was chosen, to unite and energize the social conservative base. Controlling the message in front of a national prime time audience, the far-right hopes moderates and independents will be attracted to her, her story, her humor, her grit and ignore her policies.

Cindy McCain let it be known that she disagrees with Palin’s extreme views about rape and incest victims, even while affirming her "pro-life" beliefs. But Mrs. McCain seemed confused about her own position on Roe v. Wade.

After the interview CBS anchor Katie Couric said live on air (not in the transcript), "We contacted the McCain campaign to clarify Cindy McCain’s position. The campaign said that like First Lady Laura Bush, Mrs. McCain does NOT favor overturning Roe v. Wade which guarantees the right to a legal abortion."

John McCain could have picked a woman like Sen. Olympia Snowe (ME) or Kay Bailey Hutchison (TX) as his running mate, both vastly more experienced than Palin in foreign policy, but he is not in control of his party. The far-right wing of his party is in control of McCain.

These efforts to energize the base with an extreme choice like Palin, and Cindy McCain’s seemingly sudden conversion to supporting Roe v. Wade, is the type of political manipulation and misdirection the far-right tacticians specialize in. They believe pro-choice women are not smart enough to notice.

Let’s be clear Mrs. McCain. If you don’t think Roe should be overturned you are pro-choice.  It is only through the right to legal abortion that Roe ensures, that there is a choice. Like many in the pro-choice community, you may believe in improving comprehensive sex-ed and access to contraception to reduce unintended pregnancies, and you may not choose an abortion for yourself or your family if presented with the situation. But the fact that you believe women should have the legal right, makes you pro-choice — not anti-choice.

The far-right is anti-choice. They call themselves "pro-life" because it too is a form of manipulation. The far-right wants to overturn Roe v. Wade.

It is why they have control of the GOP, it is why they want more control and it is why Sarah Palin, and not someone far more qualified, is on the ticket with McCain.  It is also why, in the midst of two wars and a flagging economy, that suddenly all you hear about are social issues. We’ve seen this before from the far-right. It is manipulation and distraction based on misinformation. 

McCain also suggested that it was the media making a big deal
of the choice issue, not the campaign. It wasn’t the media, or even
John McCain really, who chose Palin. It is clear that whoever did
force this choice on McCain did so to double-down on the base strategy
and go for broke on the issue of overturning Roe v. Wade.

Palin’s choice has dominated this convention week — McCain’s week — in St. Paul, and his personal ambition to win at all costs will be seen as his Faustian deal.

Since the announcement, the far-right has tightly controlled access to Palin, who normally would have been out doing interviews and meeting with state delegations; and even McCain canceled TV appearances, something unheard of for a man who loves the media as much as the media loves him.

Conservatives like former Reagan speechwriter and Wall Street Journal columnist Peggy Noonan and close friends of McCain like Mike Murphy, are now in open revolt. Conservative New York Times columnist David Brooks has been highly critical of Palin. Many Republicans are just barely able to make it through tough questioning, trying to put the best face on a pick Karl Rove said was not about governing.

If the far-right wing of the GOP can dictate to the party nominee who he must choose for his running mate, they will have no problem dictating Supreme Court Justices, Health and Human Services appointments, Food and Drug Administration appointments, US AID and other pivotal appointments that have direct impact over the lives and health of every American.  

As Ben Smith reported in Politico, the Obama campaign recently started running a radio ad in seven swing states targeted at pro-choice women voters, using the McCain threat to Roe v. Wade.  

Listen to the ad here.

It appears the ad was timed to make sure women understand what is really at stake.

The Obama radio ad says, "if Roe v. Wade is over turned, the lives and health of women will be put at risk." 

The reality behind that truth is this:

  • Before Roe v. Wade 1.2 million abortions were performed annually, overturning Roe does nothing to stop abortion, only harm women.
  • Between 1970 and 1973, 350,000 women traveled to New York where abortion was legal.
  • Currently at least 80,000 women outside the US each year die because of unsafe, illegal abortions, many of them already mothers leaving orphaned children behind. 

The far-right may have control of the GOP, even though a Republican Majority for Choice poll, "reveals that more than 80 percent of Republicans believe that
the GOP Platform should state that members of the Party have differing
views on the issue of abortion
, and that we should respectfully agree
to disagree on this issue of an individual’s freedom of choice."

Even 66 percent of self-identified "pro-life" Republicans don’t want abortion to be illegal, putting the McCain-Palin ticket, and the extremist delegates who control the GOP platform, further to the right of most conservatives.

The far-right will use manipulation and misdirection, trying to make McCain seem moderate compared to Palin, promoting Cindy McCain’s seemingly recent conversion on Roe v. Wade, and try to confuse pro-choice voters that the GOP is just a new breed of maverick.

But the far-right is in control, so there is no need for anyone to be confused about the threat to Roe v. Wade, and individual control over your life, your body, your choice.

The question in this election is: Will Americans give the far right total control in November, thus ending Roe? Or do voters really think overturning one Supreme Court decision will resolve anything when it comes to abortion, or will it simply continue the politics of divide and conquer the far-right has practiced for the past generation?

The GOP has seen a decline of 1.4 million voters in registrations this year, and yet whoever is control, since it doesn’t appear to be John McCain, just keeps moving the GOP further and further to the right.

One final question we should all ask, before turning control of the country over to anyone: Wouldn’t it be good to know who is really in control, since it appears John McCain is not? Especially if their agenda includes removing any sense of control you have over your own private medical decisions? 


Related Post: The Pro-Choice First Lady Stunt, Amanda Marcotte

Watch CBS Videos Online

Analysis Abortion

Legislators Have Introduced 445 Provisions to Restrict Abortion So Far This Year

Elizabeth Nash & Rachel Benson Gold

So far this year, legislators have introduced 1,256 provisions relating to sexual and reproductive health and rights. However, states have also enacted 22 measures this year designed to expand access to reproductive health services or protect reproductive rights.

So far this year, legislators have introduced 1,256 provisions relating to sexual and reproductive health and rights. Of these, 35 percent (445 provisions) sought to restrict access to abortion services. By midyear, 17 states had passed 46 new abortion restrictions.

Including these new restrictions, states have adopted 334 abortion restrictions since 2010, constituting 30 percent of all abortion restrictions enacted by states since the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade in 1973. However, states have also enacted 22 measures this year designed to expand access to reproductive health services or protect reproductive rights.

Mid year state restrictions


Signs of Progress

The first half of the year ended on a high note, with the U.S. Supreme Court handing down the most significant abortion decision in a generation. The Court’s ruling in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt struck down abortion restrictions in Texas requiring abortion facilities in the state to convert to the equivalent of ambulatory surgical centers and mandating that abortion providers have admitting privileges at a local hospital; these two restrictions had greatly diminished access to services throughout the state (see Lessons from Texas: Widespread Consequences of Assaults on Abortion Access). Five other states (Michigan, Missouri, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and Virginia) have similar facility requirements, and the Texas decision makes it less likely that these laws would be able to withstand judicial scrutiny (see Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers). Nineteen other states have abortion facility requirements that are less onerous than the ones in Texas; the fate of these laws in the wake of the Court’s decision remains unclear. 

Ten states in addition to Texas had adopted hospital admitting privileges requirements. The day after handing down the Texas decision, the Court declined to review lower court decisions that have kept such requirements in Mississippi and Wisconsin from going into effect, and Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley (R) announced that he would not enforce the state’s law. As a result of separate litigation, enforcement of admitting privileges requirements in Kansas, Louisiana, and Oklahoma is currently blocked. That leaves admitting privileges in effect in Missouri, North Dakota, Tennessee and Utah; as with facility requirements, the Texas decision will clearly make it harder for these laws to survive if challenged.

More broadly, the Court’s decision clarified the legal standard for evaluating abortion restrictions. In its 1992 decision in Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Casey, the Court had said that abortion restrictions could not impose an undue burden on a woman seeking to terminate her pregnancy. In Whole Woman’s Health, the Court stressed the importance of using evidence to evaluate the extent to which an abortion restriction imposes a burden on women, and made clear that a restriction’s burdens cannot outweigh its benefits, an analysis that will give the Texas decision a reach well beyond the specific restrictions at issue in the case.

As important as the Whole Woman’s Health decision is and will be going forward, it is far from the only good news so far this year. Legislators in 19 states introduced a bevy of measures aimed at expanding insurance coverage for contraceptive services. In 13 of these states, the proposed measures seek to bolster the existing federal contraceptive coverage requirement by, for example, requiring coverage of all U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved methods and banning the use of techniques such as medical management and prior authorization, through which insurers may limit coverage. But some proposals go further and plow new ground by mandating coverage of sterilization (generally for both men and women), allowing a woman to obtain an extended supply of her contraceptive method (generally up to 12 months), and/or requiring that insurance cover over-the-counter contraceptive methods. By July 1, both Maryland and Vermont had enacted comprehensive measures, and similar legislation was pending before Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner (R). And, in early July, Hawaii Gov. David Ige (D) signed a measure into law allowing women to obtain a year’s supply of their contraceptive method.


But the Assault Continues

Even as these positive developments unfolded, the long-standing assault on sexual and reproductive health and rights continued apace. Much of this attention focused on the release a year ago of a string of deceptively edited videos designed to discredit Planned Parenthood. The campaign these videos spawned initially focused on defunding Planned Parenthood and has grown into an effort to defund family planning providers more broadly, especially those who have any connection to abortion services. Since last July, 24 states have moved to restrict eligibility for funding in several ways:

  • Seventeen states have moved to limit family planning providers’ eligibility for reimbursement under Medicaid, the program that accounts for about three-fourths of all public dollars spent on family planning. In some cases, states have tried to exclude Planned Parenthood entirely from such funding. These attacks have come via both administrative and legislative means. For instance, the Florida legislature included a defunding provision in an omnibus abortion bill passed in March. As the controversy grew, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the federal agency that administers Medicaid, sent a letter to state officials reiterating that federal law prohibits them from discriminating against family planning providers because they either offer abortion services or are affiliated with an abortion provider (see CMS Provides New Clarity For Family Planning Under Medicaid). Most of these state attempts have been blocked through legal challenges. However, a funding ban went into effect in Mississippi on July 1, and similar measures are awaiting implementation in three other states.
  • Fourteen states have moved to restrict family planning funds controlled by the state, with laws enacted in four states. The law in Kansas limits funding to publicly run programs, while the law in Louisiana bars funding to providers who are associated with abortion services. A law enacted in Wisconsin directs the state to apply for federal Title X funding and specifies that if this funding is obtained, it may not be distributed to family planning providers affiliated with abortion services. (In 2015, New Hampshire moved to deny Title X funds to Planned Parenthood affiliates; the state reversed the decision in 2016.) Finally, the budget adopted in Michigan reenacts a provision that bars the allocation of family planning funds to organizations associated with abortion. Notably, however, Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) vetoed a similar measure.
  • Ten states have attempted to bar family planning providers’ eligibility for related funding, including monies for sexually transmitted infection testing and treatment, prevention of interpersonal violence, and prevention of breast and cervical cancer. In three of these states, the bans are the result of legislative action; in Utah, the ban resulted from action by the governor. Such a ban is in effect in North Carolina; the Louisiana measure is set to go into effect in August. Implementation of bans in Ohio and Utah has been blocked as a result of legal action.


The first half of 2016 was also noteworthy for a raft of attempts to ban some or all abortions. These measures fell into four distinct categories:

  • By the end of June, four states enacted legislation to ban the most common method used to perform abortions during the second trimester. The Mississippi and West Virginia laws are in effect; the other two have been challenged in court. (Similar provisions enacted last year in Kansas and Oklahoma are also blocked pending legal action.)
  • South Carolina and North Dakota both enacted measures banning abortion at or beyond 20 weeks post-fertilization, which is equivalent to 22 weeks after the woman’s last menstrual period. This brings to 16 the number of states with these laws in effect (see State Policies on Later Abortions).
  • Indiana and Louisiana adopted provisions banning abortions under specific circumstances. The Louisiana law banned abortions at or after 20 weeks post-fertilization in cases of diagnosed genetic anomaly; the law is slated to go into effect on August 1. Indiana adopted a groundbreaking measure to ban abortion for purposes of race or sex selection, in cases of a genetic anomaly, or because of the fetus’ “color, national origin, or ancestry”; enforcement of the measure is blocked pending the outcome of a legal challenge.
  • Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin (R) vetoed a sweeping measure that would have banned all abortions except those necessary to protect the woman’s life.


In addition, 14 states (Alaska, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee and Utah) enacted other types of abortion restrictions during the first half of the year, including measures to impose or extend waiting periods, restrict access to medication abortion, and establish regulations on abortion clinics.

Zohra Ansari-Thomas, Olivia Cappello, and Lizamarie Mohammed all contributed to this analysis.

News Politics

Sen. Tim Kaine Focuses on Reproductive Rights Amid Clinton’s Looming Decision on Vice President

Ally Boguhn

Last week, the senator and former Virginia governor argued in favor of giving Planned Parenthood access to funding in order to fight Zika. "The uniform focus for members of Congress should be, 'Let's solve the problem,'" Kaine reportedly said at a meeting in Richmond, according to Roll Call.

Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA) appears to be rebranding himself as a more staunch pro-choice advocate after news that the senator was one of at least three potential candidates being vetted by presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton’s campaign to join her presidential ticket.

Last week, the senator and former Virginia governor argued in favor of giving Planned Parenthood access to funding in order to fight the Zika virus. “The uniform focus for members of Congress should be, ‘Let’s solve the problem,'” Kaine reportedly said at a meeting in Richmond, according to Roll Call. “That is [the] challenge right now between the Senate and House.”

Kaine went on to add that “Planned Parenthood is a primary health provider. This is really at the core of dealing with the population that has been most at risk of Zika,” he continued.

As Laura Bassett and Ryan Grim reported for the Huffington Post Tuesday, “now that Clinton … is vetting him for vice president, Kaine needs to bring his record more in line with hers” when it comes to reproductive rights. While on the campaign trail this election cycle, Clinton has repeatedly spoken out against restrictions on abortion access and funding—though she has stated that she still supports some restrictions, such as a ban on later abortions, as long as they have exceptions.

Like This Story?

Your $10 tax-deductible contribution helps support our research, reporting, and analysis.

Donate Now

In what is seemingly an effort to address the issue, as Bassett and Grim suggested, Kaine signed on last week as a co-sponsor of the Women’s Health Protection Act, which would prohibit states and the federal government from enacting restrictions on abortion that aren’t applied to comparable medical services. As previously reported by Rewire, the measure would effectively stop “TRAP (targeted regulation of abortion provider) laws, forced ultrasounds, waiting periods, or restrictions on medication abortion.” TRAP laws have led to unprecedented barriers in access to abortion care.

Just one day before endorsing the legislation, Kaine issued a statement explicitly expressing his support for abortion rights after the Supreme Court struck down two provisions of Texas’ omnibus anti-choice law HB 2.

“I applaud the Supreme Court for seeing the Texas law for what it is—an attempt to effectively ban abortion and undermine a woman’s right to make her own health care choices,” said Kaine in the press release. “This ruling is a major win for women and families across the country, as well as the fight to expand reproductive freedom for all.”

The Virginia senator went on to use the opportunity to frame himself as a defender of those rights during his tenure as governor of his state. “The Texas law is quite similar to arbitrary and unnecessary rules that were imposed on Virginia women after I left office as Governor,” said Kaine. “I’m proud that we were able to successfully fight off such ‘TRAP’ regulations during my time in state office. I have always believed these sort of rules are an unwarranted effort to deprive women of their constitutionally protected right to terminate a pregnancy.”

Kaine also spoke out during his run for the Senate in 2012 when then-Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) signed a law requiring those who seek abortions to undergo an ultrasound prior to receiving care, calling the law “bad for Virginia’s image, bad for Virginia’s businesses and bad for Virginia’s women.”

Kaine’s record on abortion has of late been a hot topic among those speculating he could be a contender for vice president on the Clinton ticket. While Kaine’s website says that he “support[s] the right of women to make their own health and reproductive decisions” and that he opposes efforts to overturn Roe v. Wade, the senator recently spoke out about his personal opposition to abortion.

When host Chuck Todd asked Kaine during a recent interview on NBC’s Meet the Press about Kaine previously being “classified as a pro-life Democrat” while lieutenant governor of Virginia, Kaine described himself as a “traditional Catholic” who is “opposed to abortion.”

Kaine went on to affirm that he nonetheless still believed that the government should not intrude on the matter. “I deeply believe, and not just as a matter of politics, but even as a matter of morality, that matters about reproduction and intimacy and relationships and contraception are in the personal realm,” Kaine continued. “They’re moral decisions for individuals to make for themselves. And the last thing we need is government intruding into those personal decisions.”

As the Hill noted in a profile on Kaine’s abortion stance, as a senator Kaine has “a 100 percent rating from Planned Parenthood’s scorecard, and has consistently voted against measures like defunding Planned Parenthood and a ban on abortions after the 20th week of pregnancy.”

While running for governor of Virginia in 2005, however, Kaine promised that if elected he would “work in good faith to reduce abortions” by enforcing Virginia’s “restrictions on abortion and passing an enforceable ban on partial birth abortion that protects the life and health of the mother.”

After taking office, Kaine supported some existing restrictions on abortion, such as Virginia’s parental consent law and a so-called informed consent law, which in 2008 he claimed gave “women information about a whole series of things, the health consequences, et cetera, and information about adoption.” In truth, the information such laws mandate giving out is often “irrelevant or misleading,” according to the the Guttmacher Institute.

In 2009 he also signed a measure that allowed the state to create “Choose Life” license plates and give a percentage of the proceeds to a crisis pregnancy network, though such organizations routinely lie to women to persuade them not to have an abortion.