I HAVE a suggestion for the enraged Hillary Clinton supporters who plan to vote for John McCain to protest her failure to win the nomination.

Try this instead: Proceed to the kitchen, select a knife and plunge it into your chest.

Same difference.

Only you won't be taking the rest of us with you.

Yes, this from a fervent Hillary Clinton supporter.

Voting for John McCain is like holding your breath until you die to punish your parents - a really shortsighted act of self-destruction.

If McCain wins, your children will continue to be killed in Iraq. Your family will continue to be without health care. Your employer, the hedge-fund tycoon, will continue to pay less taxes than you do.

If McCain wins, self-righteous hacks in state legislatures will decide whether you or your daughter have to carry a fetus to term, even if you or she could die in the process.

Is that the kind of world you want to live in?

On the pivotal issue of abortion alone, McCain is a troglodyte.

He has denounced Roe v. Wade as bad law.

In the 21 years he has been in the Senate, he has cast 119 votes on abortion and related issues, 115 of which were anti-choice, according to NARAL Pro-Choice America.

The next president is likely to get at least one, if not more, appointments to the U.S. Supreme Court. And McCain has vowed to appoint another justice in the mold of Thomas/Scalia/Roberts/Alito.

That would reverse the 5-4 lifeline that has kept Roe (barely) alive and send the abortion issue back to the, uh, enlightened arena of state legislatures.

Which means that if you choose to vote for McCain - or do so indirectly by writing Clinton's name on the ballot - the short-term setback of failing to put a woman in the White House will translate into a generation or more of reversals in gender equality.

You might as well trade your power suit for one of those Little House on the Prairie getups worn by the women in the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

"No one who embraces Hillary Clinton's values and accomplishments could seriously support John McCain for president," said Kathryn Kolbert, the Philadelphia lawyer who argued the 1992 Casey abortion case before the Supreme Court. She now heads People for the American Way.

"When Clinton supporters understand what it would mean for them and their daughters to live with a Bush-McCain Supreme Court for the next 20 years, the idea of backing McCain will be unthinkable."

This isn't to minimize the anguish Clinton supporters feel about the outrageous character assassination she endured during the campaign, and the pervasive and enduring specter of sexism it revealed.

It's sickening.

One smart and powerful woman I spoke with yesterday vacillated between rage and tears for herself and her daughter.

"I'm going to take my daughter to the polling place and write in Clinton's name so she can see me vote for a woman for president," she said.

I sympathize - but only to a point.

Which makes Hillary Clinton's next mandate obvious.

She can - she should, she must - appeal to her supporters to abandon any retaliatory vote for McCain or a write-in vote for herself.

She can, should and must implore her backers to vote for Barack Obama, whose platform and policy positions are nearly identical to hers.

If not for him, for her. If not for her, for themselves. If not for themselves, for their sons and daughters.

The worst thing we can do in response to Clinton's loss is to conspire with our oppressors and vote against our own self-interest.

It would be more than ideological suicide, given the Supreme Court seats at stake.

It could literally and figuratively jeopardize the lives of women for generations to come. *

E-mail porterj@phillynews.com or call 215-854-5850. For recent columns: