It made my skin crawl when he said it, but I wasn't paying full attention. Now that I've heard it several times, though, I suspect that McCain's disparagement of the "health" of the mother, complete with air quotes and claims of extremism, will turn out to be THE decisive comment of the night.
Except for the most extreme antichoicers out there, that's it, he lost the women of America.
I am the survivor of two pregnancies -- both of which I carried to term. I suffered potentially fatal postpartum complications both times (the second time nearly killed me and left me with permanent damage). Several relatives and close friends have had life-threatening difficulties in connection with pregnancy or delivery. One acquaintance of mine nearly died from a heart infection and suffered very serious, permanent heart damage. Another woman I know was ordered to stop trying to have any more kids after suffering yet another miscarriage involving massive hemorraging (she heeded the warning for the sake of her other children).
And I'm a 35-year-old who travels in well-educated circles where most people I know have access to great health care, thank God. So I have not seen or heard the worst of it.
The fact is, pregnancy is dangerous. Very, very dangerous. Few women in the U.S. die in childbirth today (although it happens), but every adult woman knows women who have faced pregnancies and/or deliveries with respect to which "difficult" is a gentle descriptor. This is NOT A JOKE, John McCain. And it's not extreme. It's the way the world is -- wherever you are on the political spectrum. Even antichoice women must know that, in their heart of hearts -- and except for the lunatics who either hate women or truly believe that embryos are simply more important than wives/mothers/sisters for some twisted theological reason, that fact MUST have some emotional weight for them.
The sight of an old man making fun of the potentially lethal health problems of pregnant women blows my mind. It is no less hateful -- and no less alien, I think, to the outlook of most Americans -- than the horrible things that Sarah Palin's fans have taken to shouting at her rallies.
I think we're going to hear that quote replayed a lot, and that almost every woman who hears it is going to run, not walk (or waddle, if necessary!), in the other direction.