"Health of the Mother" Deserves More Than Air Quotes

By Christine Cupaiuolo — 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

3 responses to ““Health of the Mother” Deserves More Than Air Quotes”

  1. I agree that the language within the abortion debate is severely flawed. The link was a useful addition to this conversation, but I am curious about finding statistical data to bolster such attention-worthy stories.

    How many annual deaths are caused by women who proceed to delivery with high-risk pregnancies?

    How many of the delivered high-risk babies die after birth?

    How many women have experienced irreversible damage or death during the D and X procedure?

    Is the D and X procedure unequivocally safer than delivery in high-risk cases?

    What are the risks of delivery vs D and X, comparatively?

    How does viability play into D and X decisions?

    I suppose the definition of ‘high-risk’ is somewhat debatable, depending on who you talk to.

    In terms of viability, it seems -challenging- to reconcile that such a late stage fetus would still be considered a fetus if aborted, and yet a baby, if delivered. Again, the language is so not helpful here.

    Thank you for letting me share my questions.

  2. First of all too much time and energy is wasted focusing on this debate. It is just another tactic of the anti-abortion group. I will not call them pro-life because they are not pro-life. First of all, no woman would go close to full-term only to abort. She is aborting for obvious serious health reasons at that point in the pregnancy. This decision is not taken lightly. She and her doctor have made a grueling decision. Secondly, less than 1% of abortions are late-term.

Comments are closed.