In an article in today's New York Times, Chan Chandler, the pastor who denounced Kerry voters from the pulpit at East Waynesville Baptist Church in North Carolina, insists once again, through his attorney, that his preaching wasn't simply anti-Democrat:
John J. Pavey Jr., Mr. Chandler's lawyer, said that his client was speaking from a Christian, not a partisan, point of view, and that he also condemned two Republicans who support abortion rights, Senator John McCain of Arizona and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger of California.
I expect a theocrat who's undoubtedly absorbed a lot of Religious Right (and Karl Rove) propaganda to say that McCain is pro-choice. But why is The New York Times presenting this as fact?
McCain has asserted that he supports legal abortion only when pregnancy resulted from rape or incest, or when the life of the woman is endangered.
Project Vote Smart reports that McCain got a 0 rating from Planned Parenthood in the years 1995-2003 and a 0 from NARAL in 2000, 2001, 2003, and 2004.
Here's how McCain answered key questions posed by the Concord Monitor in New Hampshire in 2000, when he was running for President:
Do you support a ban on "partial birth abortion"?
Do you support mandatory parental consent for teenagers seeking abortions?
McCain:Yes. Mandatory parental notification should be determined by the individual states, but is a policy that I support and strongly encourage. Our nation's children should not be kept from their parents when making any important life decision, particularly one with such broad ramifications as an abortion.
Would you support a constitutional amendment to prohibit abortion?
Even writers who question McCain's bona fides on the issue admit that, on core abortion issues, he votes right-to-life:
McCain has twice voted to override President Bill Clinton's veto of a bill that would have ended partial birth abortions. He also voted in favor of a law that would have prevented family planning clinics that receive federal funding from counseling women on abortion.
However he has come under criticism for votes for fetal tissue research, failing to vote on a crucial pro-Roe v. Wade amendment, and being the major backer of a bill that would stifle pro-life organizations' participation in lobbying and elections.
McCain has hedged on overturning Roe v. Wade -- but so has President Bush, whose anti-abortion credentials aren't questioned.
But none of this gives the Times any reason to conclude that McCain "support[s] abortion rights." This, I suspect, is yet another case of a "liberal media" reporter being so bowled over by the moral certainty of a right-wing absolutist that it didn't seem necessary to do any actual fact-checking.