McCain’s real history: attacking women’s rights


For Immediate Release: October 12, 2016

Contact: Enrique Gutierrez, (602) 234-6813,



McCain’s real history: attacking women’s rights


McCain has consistently denied women equal access to health care, workplace protections, fought to defund Planned Parenthood


PHOENIX — Throughout his 33 years in Washington, John McCain has repeatedly fought against giving women an equal place in society by limiting access to basic health care, fair and adequate pay, and equality in the workplace.

McCain’s record on women and the workplace:

  • Declared only weeks ago that “to mandate exact equal pay just because of gender” was “an unwarranted intrusion of the federal government in the marketplace”

  • Cosponsored a bill that would allow your employer to fire you for getting pregnant outside of wedlock

  • Said the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act wouldn’t “do anything to help the rights of women” and voted multiple times against equal pay legislation

  • Has voted over 20 times against raising the minimum wage, preventing 228,000 Arizona women from receiving a raise

  • McCain pledged his support for Donald Trump more than 60 times over the course of 470 days -- despite Trump’s frequent, sexist attacks on women -- .

McCain’s record on women’s access to health care:

  • Said he was proud of his vote to defund Planned Parenthood -- a vote he’s repeated 8 times -- jeopardizing access to contraception and cancer screenings for low income women

  • Supported a constitutional amendment to ban abortion

  • Cosponsored the Blunt amendment, allowing employers to block coverage for contraceptives in employee insurance

"Arizona women know John McCain has a tremendously bad record on women’s issues, including opposing efforts to close the wage gap and even saying that it’s not the government’s place to ensure women don’t face discrimination in pay,” said Arizona Democratic Party Chair Alexis Tameron. “For McCain to say he walked away from Donald Trump because of how he treats women is laughable considering McCain has made a career of fighting against issues that matter to women. His election year acrobatics are pretty shameless, even for him. But that's what happens when you spend over 30 years, insulated from the real world, in Washington.”


McCain Cosponsored A Bill That Could Allow Employers To Fire Single Women For Being Pregnant. In July 2015, McCain sponsored S.1598, the “First Amendment Defense Act,” a bill that: “Prohibits the federal government from taking discriminatory action against a person on the basis that such person believes or acts in accordance with a religious belief or moral conviction that: (1) marriage is or should be recognized as the union of one man and one woman, or (2) sexual relations are properly reserved to such a marriage. […] Defines ‘person’ as any person regardless of religious affiliation, including corporations and other entities regardless of for-profit or nonprofit status.” [S.1598, summary, 6/17/15; S.1598, cosponsors, 7/13/15]

McCain Voted Against The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, Which Would Make It Easier For Victims of Wage Discrimination to Seek Remedies in Court. In 2009, McCain voted against final passage of S.181, the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act: “Passage of the bill that would amend the 1964 Civil Rights Act to clarify time limits for workers to file employment discrimination lawsuits. The bill would allow workers who allege discrimination based on race, gender, national origin, religion, age or disability to file charges of pay discrimination within 180 days of the last received paycheck affected by the alleged discriminatory decision. The bill would renew the statute of limitations with each act of discrimination.” The bill passed, 61-36. [CQ, 1/22/09; S. 181, Vote 14, 1/22/09]

McCain Voted Five Times Against The Paycheck Fairness Act. [CQ,11/17/10; S. 3772, Vote 249, 11/17/10; CQ, 6/5/12; S. 3220, Vote 115, 6/5/12; CQ, 4/9/14; S. 2199, Vote 103, 4/9/14; CQ, 9/15/14; S. 2199, Vote 262, 9/15/14;CQ, 3/24/15; S.Amdt. 362 to S.Con.Res. 11, Vote 82, 3/24/15]

In Arizona Women Earned 84 Cents On The Dollar Compared To Men. According to the National Women’s Law Center, women in Arizona made 83.6 cents on the dollar for every dollar a man made, amounting to a 16.4 cent wage gap for women. [National Women’s Law Center, 9/8/14]


McCain Cosponsored The Blunt Amendment. [, S.Amdt.1520 to S.Amdt.1730 cosponsors, 2/.9/12]

  • Blunt Amendment Would Allow Employers To Block Access To Women’s Contraception Or Important Preventive Care That They Objected To. “The Senate Thursday rejected an effort to vastly expand conscience exemptions to the Obama administration’s new birth control coverage rule, even as Republican presidential contenders continued to tussle over the issue. The measure, an amendment proposed by Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) to a highway funding bill, would have allowed not only religious groups but any employer with moral objections to opt out of the coverage requirement. And it would have allowed such employers to do so in the case of not only contraception but any health service required by the 2010 health-care law.” [Washington Post, 3/1/12]

  • Boston Globe: Blunt Amendment Would Broaden Conscience Clause Such That Contraception, In-Vitro Fertilization, Blood Transfusions, Vaccines Could Be Excluded From Insurance Coverage.At issue is a bill introduced last year by Blunt in response to the federal health care law mandate that coverage of birth control be included in all insurance plans. Blunt’s bill would broaden the conscience protection clause to allow any employer or insurer who has religious or moral objections to a particular health service from covering it. That could mean not only contraception being excluded from coverage, but also in-vitro fertilization, blood transfusions, vaccines, or anything else employers deem a violation of their faith.” [Boston Globe, 2/18/12]

McCain Voted To Advance The Blunt Amendment, Which Allowed Employers To Refuse To Provide Contraception To Female Employees. In 2012, McCain voted against: “Murray, D-Wash., motion to table (kill) the Blunt, R-Mo., amendment no. 1520 to the Reid, D-Nev., amendment no. 1730. The Blunt amendment would allow health insurance plans to deny coverage to provisions for medical services that run counter to the plan sponsor's or employer's religious beliefs. It also would establish a private right of legal action for enforcement of the coverage exemptions. The Reid amendment would add safety, revenue and public transit titles to a bill that would authorize federal highway programs for two years.” The motion to kill the Blunt amendment was agreed to by a vote of 51-48. [CQ, 3/1/12; S.Amdt. 1520 to S.Amdt. 1730 to S. 1813, Vote 24, 3/1/12]

  • American Cancer Society Opposed The Blunt Amendment, Saying It Could Allow Employers To Deny Coverage Of Life-Saving Preventive Services Based On “Undefined” Beliefs. “The lobbying arm of the American Cancer Society also opposed the Blunt amendment, saying it would allow employers to deny coverage of life-saving preventive services like mammograms and smoking cessation programs, based on ‘undefined religious beliefs or moral convictions.’” [New York Times, 3/2/12]

  • National Women’s Law Center: The Blunt Amendment Was So Vague That It Could Have Created A “Huge Loophole” In The Insurance Requirement For Preventive Care That Could Result In Millions Losing Coverage. “The Blunt Amendment allows employers and insurance companies to refuse coverage of any health care service required under the new health care law based on undefined ‘religious beliefs or moral convictions.’ This creates a huge loophole in the new health care law’s coverage requirements. For example, any corporation whose CEO opposes contraception based on his ‘moral convictions’ could deny all coverage of contraception or any other service to the company’s employees.  Even more disturbing, a CEO’s view of ‘morality’ could potentially include concern for the cost of a particular benefit. Such broad, undefined refusals would result in millions of individuals losing vital health service coverage.” [National Women’s Law Center, 3/13/12]

December 2015: McCain Voted For Bill That Blocked Federal Funding To Planned Parenthood. In December 2015, McCain voted for: “Passage of the bill that would repeal portions of the 2010 health care law and block federal funding for Planned Parenthood for one year. As amended, the bill would zero-out the law's penalties for noncompliance with the law's requirements for most individuals to obtain health coverage and employers to offer health insurance. As amended, it also would scrap in 2018 the law's Medicaid expansion, as well as subsidies to help individuals buy coverage through the insurance exchanges. It also would scrap certain taxes included in the law, including the tax on certain high-value employer-sponsored health insurance plans.” The bill passed 52-47. [CQ, 12/3/15; H.R. 3762, Vote 329, 12/3/15]


December 2015: McCain Voted Against Removing Language Blocking Federal Funding To Planned Parenthood. In December 2015, McCain voted for: “Collins, R-Maine, amendment no. 2885, to the McConnell substitute amendment no. 2874, that would remove the section of the measure that would block for one year federal funding that is considered direct spending to Planned Parenthood. The substitute would, instead of repealing the 2010 health law's requirements for most individuals to obtain health coverage and employers to offer health insurance or face tax penalties, remove the law's penalties for noncompliance. The substitute also would reinstate in 2025 the tax on certain high-value employer-sponsored health insurance plans, which would be repealed under the bill, and would add a provision that would force individuals to pay back the full amount of any subsidy overpayments.” The amendment was rejected, 48-52. [CQ, 12/3/15; S.Amdt. 2885 to S.Amdt. 2874 to H.R.3762, Vote 314, 12/3/15]


December 2015: McCain Voted To Block Federal Funding To Planned Parenthood. In December 2015, McCain voted for: “Enzi, R-Wyo., motion to table (kill) the Murray, D-Wash., amendment no. 2876 to the McConnell, R-Ky., substitute amendment no. 2874 that would remove the section that would block for one year federal funding to Planned Parenthood. It also would establish a fund to make payments to women's health clinics to provide services and to ensure safety of such clinics.” The motion was agreed to, 54-46. [CQ, 12/3/15; S.Amdt.2876 to S.Amdt.2874 to H.R.3762, Vote 311, 12/3/15]


September 2015: McCain Voted For Cloture On Continuing Appropriations That Would Bar Use Of Funds For Planned Parenthood. In September 2015, McCain voted for: “Motion to invoke cloture (thus limiting debate) on the Cochran, R-Miss., substitute amendment no. 2669 that would provide continuing appropriations for government operations through Dec. 11, 2015, at an annual rate of about $1.017 trillion. It also would prohibit for one year federal funding for Planned Parenthood or its affiliates unless they certify that they will not perform, or fund other entities that perform, abortions during that period. The substitute amendment would redirect $235 million to community health centers.” The motion was rejected, 47-52. [CQ, 9/24/15; H.J.Res.61, Vote 270, 9/24/15]


McCain Voted To Advance A Bill That Would Prohibit Federal Funding For Planned Parenthood Or Any Of The Organization’s Affiliates, Subsidiaries, Successors, Or Clinics. In July 2015, McCain voted for a: “Motion to invoke cloture (thus limiting debate) on the McConnell, R-Ky., motion to proceed to the bill that would prohibit federal funding for the Planned Parenthood Federation of America or any of the organization's affiliates, subsidiaries, successors or clinics. The bill would state that it shall not be interpreted to reduce overall federal funding available for women's health or to affect abortion-related limitations in appropriations laws.” The motions was rejected 53-46. [CQ, 8/3/15; S. 1881, Vote 262, 8/3/15]


McCain Voted To Bar Use Of Funds For Planned Parenthood. In April 2011, McCain voted in favor of: “Adoption of the concurrent resolution that would direct the House clerk to make a correction in the enrollment of a bill (HR 1473) to provide $1.055 trillion in discretionary funding for fiscal 2011, and insert a section that would bar the use of funds made available in the bill to the Planned Parenthood Federation of America Inc. or its affiliates.” The concurrent resolution was rejected 42-58. [CQ, 4/14/11; H.Con.Res. 36, Vote 60, 4/14/11]


McCain Voted For 2011 Republican Continuing Resolution.  In March 2011, McCain voted for: “Passage of the bill that would provide continuing appropriations through fiscal 2011 for all government agencies, except the Defense Department, which would receive $515.8 billion in base funding. Most other programs would be funded at fiscal 2010 levels, less eliminations, reductions and rescissions totaling roughly $61.5 billion.” [CQ, 3/9/11; H.R. 1, Vote 36, 3/9/11]


  • Continuing Resolution Blocked Funding To Planned Parenthood. “Eliminates Funding for the Title X Family Planning Program, Teen Pregnancy Prevention and Planned Parenthood H.R. 1 eliminates funding for the Title X program, which for more than 40 years has provided family planning services, breast and cervical cancer screenings, and other preventive health care to low-income women in need. Title X-funded health centers serve more than five million low-income women and men each year, and six in 10 women who obtain health care from a family planning center consider it to be their primary source of health care.” [National Women’s Law Center, 3/30/11]


McCain Voted For Amendment That Prohibited Federal Family Planning Funds From Certain Entities.  In October 2007, McCain voted for: “Vitter, R-La., amendment no. 3330 to the Harkin, D-Iowa, substitute amendment no. 3325. The Vitter amendment would prohibit the distribution of Title X family planning funds to abortion providers except when a woman suffers from a physical disorder, injury or illness that would risk the life of the mother unless an abortion is provided. The amendment would not apply to hospitals. The substitute would appropriate $605.5 billion in fiscal 2008, including $149.9 billion in discretionary spending, for the departments of Labor, Health and Human Services (HHS) and Education and for related agencies. It would provide $63 billion for the Education Department, $14.9 billion for the Labor Department and $479.1 billion for HHS.” The amendment was rejected, 41-52. [CQ, 10/18/07; S.Amdt. 3330 to S.Amdt. 3325 to H.R. 3043, Vote 379, 10/18/07]


  • The Amendment Would Have Restricted Funding To Any Organization That Performed Abortions, Even Though Current Law Prohibited Federal Funding For Abortions.  “The Senate on Thursday voted 52-41 to reject an amendment by Sen. David Vitter, R-La., that would deny federal family planning money to organizations that perform abortions. Vitter's proposal would have imposed new restrictions on the Title X program, which, under the pending Senate spending bill, is to receive $299 million in the 2008 fiscal year. Federal law already bars the family planning program from financing abortions.” [New Orleans Times-Picayune, 10/19/07]

  • The Amendment Would Have Defunded Planned Parenthood. “But it would hit Planned Parenthood particularly hard. According to Vitter, the group performed 264,000 abortions in 2005 and received about $59 million in Title X financing that year. That financing would be denied the group if Vitter's amendment became law. According to Planned Parenthood, 5 million women a year receive health care services at about 4,500 family planning clinics financed by Title X.” [New Orleans Times-Picayune, 10/19/07]