Some GOP women are defecting from McCain

The candidate's abysmal record on reproductive rights is one reason.

Published June 19, 2008 7:50PM (EDT)

We've heard a lot in recent weeks about women who supported Hillary Clinton who may refuse to vote for Barack Obama in the general election. And now for something completely different: GOP women who may decline to cast a ballot this November for the guy who is their party's presumptive nominee, John McCain.

Like the stories suggesting that some of the Democratic women who supported Hillary Clinton in the primary won't go for Barack Obama, this one in today's San Francisco Chronicle about defecting GOP women doesn't have a lot of hard numbers to go on. But it does give some Republican women who are rejecting McCain a public platform. The main reason two out of three women quoted cite for snubbing McCain: reproductive rights.

"I cannot see a more counterproductive candidate for women. I cannot vote for McCain," said Jillian Manus-Salzman, who the article describes as a leading "California Republican activist and generous GOP donor." Manus-Salzman added: "We don't want to be perceived as a one-issue vote. But in this case, the Supreme Court is in play, medical advancements are in play."

Then there's Harriet Stinson, the 82-year-old founder of Bay Area-based Republicans for Choice, who after 60 years as a registered Republican has reregistered as a Democrat because of McCain: "I couldn't take it anymore," she said, citing McCain's terrible record on issues like funding birth control and support for sex education.

"If he overturns Roe v. Wade, what criminal penalties would he propose?" Stinson told the Chronicle. "He's had a terrible record (on reproductive rights). He's zero, he couldn't be any worse ... He's all against big government, and he wants big government ... to get involved in the most private decision women can make. And a lot of women have no clue on how he is on this."

It's impossible to say how many other Republican women like Manus-Salzman and Stinson are out there. But maybe by so publicly denouncing him, these women will get the word out to more of their GOP sisters that if you care about reproductive rights at all, then Sen. John McCain is not your candidate, no matter what your party affiliation may be.

By Katharine Mieszkowski

Katharine Mieszkowski is a senior writer for Salon.

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