The queen of bad takes is at it again. Following news that the Catholic church is considering barring politicians who support abortion from taking part in Communion, Meghan McCain appeared on The View this morning to take a bizarrely anti-woman position on the whole thing. “Abortion is a deep cardinal skin which can do deep spiritual harm to you,” said the daughter of the late Republican and good friend of Joe Biden’s John McCain, before adding that the president will need to reckon with his “creator” if he is to continue supporting a woman’s right to choose.
I am deeply familiar with this kind of rhetoric as I was raised in a conservative, Catholic American household. Throughout my childhood and teenagehood, I continually turned to the church for support — and was met with judgment and shame. When I became unexpectedly pregnant, I was pressured into keeping the baby because of my family’s anti-abortion views. Then, after I had my son and went to the Catholic church to get him baptized, I was ostracized by that community for being a young single mother. The irony wasn’t lost on me, but it was certainly lost on them.
While I do not regret my decision to continue my pregnancy, the experience ultimately led to me leaving the church. I lived the reality of Catholic judgment about abortion and it is not driven by compassion or respect for women. Luckily for me, I still had a support system and a family when the Catholic community turned against me. But so many women in worse circumstances than I was are pressured into having babies they can’t afford and then judged and abandoned at their most vulnerable by an institution which dares to say it cares about the sanctity of human life. Meghan McCain would do well to use her imagination and think about what happens to women who don’t live with the same privileges she enjoys. Poverty is often the outcome; at other times, illness or death from backstreet abortions.
The Catholic church does itself no favors when it engages in political pressure like this. According to a Gallup poll, church membership is in steady decline across the United States. Little wonder, when this is its public face.
Another troubling aspect of McCain’s monologue on The View is the fact that she states plainly how Biden should follow Catholic doctrine in the White House because he is a practising Catholic in his personal life. I can’t imagine that, if the president were Jewish or Muslim, she would say the same. A separation of church and state is important for a functioning democracy — as the women on The View agreed amongst themselves during the same segment — and being voted into the Oval Office does not give one the power to turn the country into a Christian supremacist state. Biden was elected by a diversity of Americans, all of whom share different belief systems, and many of whom are not religious at all. He should not mistake their votes for free rein to exercise hardline Catholic ideology on the American people. It is worrying that Meghan McCain, whose father spoke often about the absolute necessity of freedom and autonomy, might consider that to be the case.
If Meghan McCain is really as “pro-life”, as she says she is, she should start by being pro-woman. Because all too often, the Catholic church and its supporters say they care, when really their actions show that they just want control.