11/16/2008 05:12 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Mocking Women's Health and Losing Their Votes (with "Air Quotes")

Do you hear that?

It's the sound of even more women voters in swing states like Colorado, New Hampshire, and Virginia moving to Sen. Barack Obama after John McCain's response to questions regarding a woman's right to choose in last night's debate.

McCain reiterated his call to overturn Roe v. Wade. (Even George W. Bush didn't make this statement when he was running for president.)

McCain used "air quotes" as he insulted women who need an abortion because their health is threatened. (A friend of mine who was at the debate said the crowd gasped at McCain's callous disregard for women's health.)

McCain looked every bit as out of touch with women's everyday lives as his 25-year record of voting against women's freedom and privacy demonstrates.

McCain even used the right-wing rhetoric of sending the issue "back to the states" (a baseless argument that we've debunked on multiple occasions).

Take a look:

Sen. Obama, on the other hand, provided all Americans -- especially women voters in swing states -- with a different vision and respect for women and the difficult decisions they have to make.

Sen. Obama reiterated his support for Roe v. Wade and for the constitutional right to privacy this landmark decision represents.

Sen. Obama's response reflected his respect for women making the decisions, including adoption, that are best for them.

Sen. Obama outlined how he will unite Americans behind commonsense, common-ground ways to improve women's health-care options and prevent unintended pregnancy. His record of support for these measures is strong, and we have worked with him and other pro-choice leaders to advance Prevention First initiatives that do just that.

The contrast Americans saw on TV last night will be magnified in the next three weeks as NARAL Pro-Choice America contacts more than 300,000 pro-choice households in eight battleground states numerous times. With polls changing daily in Colorado, Michigan, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Virginia, NARAL Pro-Choice America will be communicating with women in these states to make the case for Barack Obama's presidency.

McCain doesn't understand a key principle that, for many women, is central to their choice of a candidate for president. The same woman who wants a president to address the difficulty of paying to put gas in the car while other bills pile up on the kitchen counter also wants a president who respects her ability to make the personal, private medical decisions that are best for her and her family. She doesn't want a politician like McCain mocking protections for her health or voting against birth control.

As the election enters its final phase, and these key voters hear from NARAL Pro-Choice America about the stark differences between John McCain and Barack Obama about a woman's right to choose, women will choose the candidate who will stand with them. That candidate is Barack Obama.

Nancy Keenan is the president of NARAL Pro-Choice America.