McCain, Obama Worlds Apart on Safe Abortion Access

Emily Douglas

On access to safe, legal abortion, John McCain and Barack Obama could hardly be more different.

The 2008 candidates for the
presidency may agree that Guantanamo Bay should be closed, that their administrations
would not condone torture and that our economy is in crisis, but on
abortion, John McCain and Barack Obama could hardly be more different.   

Obama supports the right
to legal abortion; McCain opposes legal abortion except in cases of
rape and incest and threat to a mother’s life
.  McCain has called for
the overturn of Roe v. Wade
while Obama
supports the Freedom of Choice Act
which would codify Roe in legislative statute.  The Republican Party’s
, meanwhile,
calls for a constitutional amendment banning abortion even in cases of rape and incest; McCain’s
running mate Sarah Palin shares that view, opposing legal abortion in all cases including
rape and incest, except for when the pregnancy poses a threat to the
mother’s life. 

Obama supports the connection
of rights to resources – access to abortion care for women regardless
of economic status – while McCain opposes public financing of abortion. 

Obama supports the repeal of the Hyde Amendment, an amendment passed
three years after Roe to outlaw federal funding for abortion care. 
Only 19 states provide state funding for abortion; in the other states,
low-income women patch together payment for abortion from non-profit
abortion funds and their own savings.  Guttmacher
Institute studies suggest

that the net impact of the denial of public funding for abortion is
often a later abortion, rather than an abortion foregone altogether. 
Guttmacher researcher Heather Boonstra found that,

Researchers have
studied the impact of funding restrictions on women’s reproductive decisions
and have found that despite the relatively high cost of the procedure,
most poor women in need of an abortion manage to obtain one — a testament
to women’s determination not to bear a child they feel unprepared to
care for. But their doing so often comes at a cost, as many poor women
have to postpone their abortion. For those who are affected, the delay
is substantial: Poor women take up to three weeks longer than other
women to obtain an abortion.

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The Republican Party platform
supports continued funding for "crisis pregnancy centers," while
Obama opposes

So-called "crisis pregnancy centers" offer non-medical biased counseling
for women who counseling and/or abortion services – often deceptively, posing as reproductive
health care clinics that provide medical care

and often, specifically abortion care.  Under the Bush administration,
crisis pregnancy centers have received $30 million in federal funding. 
As Vicki
Saporta wrote on an article for Rewire on CPCs

In 2006, Representative Henry
Waxman (D-CA) released a study, which found that 87% of the federally
funded CPCs provided inaccurate and misleading information including
the false link between abortion and breast cancer, the effects of abortion
on future fertility, and the mental health effects of abortion. It is
reprehensible that federal taxpayer dollars are being used to support
fake clinics that deliberately deceive women with false medical information.

Obama also opposes parental
consent laws
can jeopardize teens’ health and safety, while McCain has spoken
of his support for these "important" laws

But Obama also supports a host
of pro-prevention measures, including comprehensive sexuality education
and contraception access, that decrease rates of unwanted pregnancy, that McCain opposes.

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Reproductive rights are a public health issue. That's a fact.

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