"Health of the Mother" Deserves More Than Air Quotes

October 16, 2008

While issues that greatly affect women have hardly been front and center during this presidential campaign, there was one moment during last night’s debate, when the subject turned to abortion, that Sen. John McCain kissed the votes of moderate women voters good-bye.

McCain was attacking Sen. Barack Obama for being in cahoots “with the extreme aspect of the pro-abortion movement” (the what?) because, as a member of the Illinois State Senate, Obama voted against the so-called partial-birth abortion ban.

Obama explained that he did so because there was no exception for the life or health of the mother, to which McCain responded, complete with air quotes:

Just again — just again the example of the eloquence of Senator Obama. He’s — health of the mother. You know, that’s been stretched by the pro-abortion movement, in America, to mean almost anything. That’s — that’s the extreme pro-abortion position, quote, “health.”

I’m with Nicole Belle at Crooks and Liars, who writes: “Clearly, in all his debate prep, no one thought to coach McCain not to go to the third rail of the abortion issue. Boy, was that an oversight. Because not only did McCain go there, he jumped right on to it. […] Not a legitimate concern? Tell that to these women.”

The story Belle points to is about women whose lives were saved by late-term abortions.

If you managed to miss the moment, you can watch the exchange below:

For more reading, check out: McCain Repeats Debunked ‘Born Alive’ Attacks in Debate by Emily Douglas

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