An Open Letter to Gov. Palin on Women’s Rights


Dear Governor Sarah Palin:

Many Americans agree with your
position regarding abortion — they do this as a matter of faith,
ethics, personal experience and sometimes politics. I am just wondering
though, if you have thought about what would happen if you succeeded in
getting your position — that fetuses have a right to life –
established as the law of the land? Did you know that it not only
threatens the lives, health and freedom of women who might want or need
someday to end their pregnancies, it would also give the government the
power to control the lives of women — like you — who go to term?

Your
last pregnancy, the one that has become the topic of widespread
discussion and speculation, provides an important opportunity to
demonstrate how this could be true.

According to press reports,
your water broke while you were giving a keynote speech in Texas at the
Republican Governors’ Energy Conference. You did not immediately go to
the hospital — instead you gave your speech and then waited at least
11 hours to get to a hospital. You evaluated the risks, made a choice,
and were able to carry on your life without state interference. Texas
Governor Rick Perry worried about your pregnancy but didn’t stop you
from speaking or take you into custody to protect the rights of the
fetus.

After Ayesha Madyun’s water broke, she went to the
hospital where she hoped and planned to have a vaginal birth. When she
didn’t give birth in a time-frame comfortable to her doctors, they
argued that she should have a C-section. The doctors asserted that the
fetus faced a 50-75 percent chance of infection if not delivered
surgically. (Risks of infection are believed by some health care
providers to increase with each hour after a woman’s water has broken
and she hasn’t delivered.)

The court, believing like you that
fetuses have a right to life, said, "[a]ll that stood between the
Madyun fetus and its independent existence, separate from its mother,
was put simply, a doctor’s scalpel." With that, the court granted the
order and the scalpel sliced through Ms. Madyun’s flesh, the muscles of
her abdominal wall, and her uterus. The core principle justifying an
end to legal abortion in the U.S. provided the same grounds used to
deprive this pregnant and laboring woman of her rights to due process,
bodily integrity, and physical liberty. When the procedure was done,
there was no evidence of infection.

According to the press
reports, instead of going straight to a hospital you chose to get on a
long airplane flight back to Alaska.

When Pamela Rae Stewart,
allegedly, didn’t get to the hospital quickly enough on the day of her
delivery, she was arrested in California on the theory that she had
violated the rights of her fetus.

When Laura Pemberton chose to
give birth at home in Florida, a Sheriff came to her house. Doctors
believed that she was posing a risk to the life of her unborn child by
having a vaginal birth after having had a previous c-section and were
in the process of getting a court order to force her to have a
c-section. The sheriff took her into custody during active labor,
strapped her legs together and forced her to go to a hospital where an
emergency hearing was taking place to determine the rights of her
fetus. She was "allowed" to represent herself. A lawyer was appointed
for the fetus. This woman, who vehemently opposes abortion,
nevertheless believed in her right to evaluate medical risks and
benefits to herself and her unborn child. She was forced to have the
unnecessary surgery and when she later sued for violations of her civil
rights, was told fetal rights outweighed hers.

You chose to
continue working throughout your pregnancy — even during your labor.
Until 1991 women who worked in high paying blue color jobs that
provided health benefits were being fired based on "fetal rights"
policies that claimed if the woman became pregnant she would expose the
unborn child to workplace health risks. Eventually, the Supreme Court
said employers covered by the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (the PDA)
could not do this. But, millions of American women work part time or
for small employers who are not covered by the PDA. If your political
position on abortion is accepted — all of these women could be forced
to give up their jobs because an employer, family member, or state
agent believed it necessary to ensure the health and rights of their
unborn child.

Governor Palin, you have led an extraordinary life,
balancing work and family, public service and private family
obligations. We hope you know though that your freedom relies on
exactly the same legal principals that guarantee that American women
can choose to have an abortion when they need and want one.

Sixty
one percent of women who have abortions are already mothers.
Eighty-four percent of these will be mothers by the time they are in
their forties. We hope
that, as a proud mother of five beautiful children, you will recognize that the issue isn’t abortion — it is ensuring the
lives, dignity and freedom of all pregnant women and their families.

Lynn Paltrow

Executive Director, National Advocates for Pregnant Women

This letter first appeared on Alternet.

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  • mellankelly1

    I researched all of the women you referenced and in doing so found many more who were forced to endure unimaginable circumstances due to these so-called "fetal rights."  I can’t fathom my daughters being put into one of these situations or dying as a result (see Angela Carder)… this has only reignited my passion for ensuring that we elect a President who will make certain that any Supreme Court Justice(s) that they nominate will see the value of the lives of these pregnant women and not be clouded by their distaste for abortion.

  • http://www.xanga.com/Andrea_TheNerd invalid-0

    When will the madness end?

    When we want it to end.

  • invalid-0

    Lynn,
    Your description of the Madyun case (In re Madyun, 573 A.2d 1235 [DC Dist. Ct 1986]) is incomplete and highly inaccurate.
    The Madyun case involved a Muslim woman who had been in labor for two and a half days. Although the undisputed medical testimony strongly demonstrated that a c-section would be beneficial to both the mother and child, the parents refused to give consent. The refusal was based in part upon their religious objection to a c-section, and in part on their mistaken, non-medical belief that the procedure wasn’t necessary and that a vaginal delivery could be expedited naturally if the mother were permitted to stand up or walk around. The court found that the interest of the nearly-delivered child outweighed the parents religious and inexpert medical opinions. In particular, the court credited the medical testimony that sepsis could have started at any time 24 hours after the water broke and could kill the baby with little or possibly no warning.
    Why you’re criticizing Governor Palin, who got to a hospital well within 24 hours of her water breaking, is beyond me. Apparently your motive is to preserve the right of other women to kill their virtual newborns (even though they want them) for no reason or for crazy reasons. I suppose if Mrs. Madyun preferred to have the baby dragged up her esophagus with a forceps and delivered through her nose, you’d approve of that, too. We have to trust women to act as moral agents, don’t we?

  • invalid-0

    As we know, Dr. benrd Nathanson lied , under oath, to the Supreme Court about the number of women who were harmed or died from illegal abortions before abortion was legalized. He also lied aobut the number of illegal abortions that were perfomed. He admits he just made up numbers that he thought would look good for his cause.
    Norma McCorvey, the Jane roe of Roe vs Wade, says she was lied to and used by the pro-abortion lawyers in the case, and that they lied about her to the court. She is now a member of the pro life movement. The history of those in favor of abortions is loaded with falsehoods, so I dont’ believe ewhat you are writing. Furthermore, the constant harping on the “health exception” to the partial birth abortion ban is another falsehood. There has never been one case where that procedure was needed for health reasons. Why do you thinnk there are no legal challenges
    to the Court decison? Onewould have to come up with a real health exception to do that, and they can’t do it.

  • invalid-0

    Lynn,

    what an excellent letter. It clearly demonstrates that we women and our children have a lot at stake in this election. I am a foreign resident, married to an American citizen and quite appaled and shocked about the low level of respect and treatment women in the US often seem to get — as well as give to each other and their children. Blinded, by distaste for abortion (as if this were something that women deliberately and lightheartedly choose and please note that I am not advocating for an abortion), some women overlook the fact that abortion isn’t the issue, but rather ensuring life and dignity and a foundation for freedom and life for all. Those who are rooted in faith should not forget that God gave us the freedom of choice.

    I do not comprehend how any woman can defend a law that decides what is going to happen to her body. And please don’t give me the ‘selfish’ argument, we’re not discussing abortion in depth here. While there may be some women who undergo an abortion in a ‘lighthearted’ mode, I do not believe that the majority of mothers anywhere willfully decide to put their children in harm’s way. And certainly not when you’re in labor.

    So I ask you, how come, that a modern society that advocates freedom around the world has laws that can influence how women should give birth? Where is the trust in our own judgement as women and mothers? Where is the respect for life? There are also other factors to consider and I’m referring to some of the examples given in earlier posts. In comparison to other industrialized countries, there are a lot more C-sections performed in the US due to legal liabilities for doctors and the medical community. So, when a doctor here in the US says, a woman needs a C-section, that does not necessarily mean, other doctors in countries where potential lawsuits are not a driving factor in a medical decision, would share this opinion. European doctors for example let you go far longer beyond the due date than US doctors before seeing a need to induce, or giving a C-section, given that mother and baby are in decent health. Raving Atheist, I don’t think the emphasis that it was “a Muslim” woman in the case you’re describing is appropriate. There are different viewpoints and opinions from different people in the world and they deserve the same respect. Medical expert or not.

    Sitting on an airplane with your water broken on an 8 hour flight — if this indeed is a true story — does not exactly demonstrate good judgement, a sense of responsibility and a value-driven choice in a traditional definition, even if it is the fifth pregnancy. If you do this as a “normal person”, you’d get arrested for reasons of insanity and putting your child in harm’s way. But then, Governor Palin’s action is somewhat in tandem with the lack of responsibility in letting a 17 year old marry, just because she’s pregnant.

    I agree with Lynn: Governor Palin’s decision on flying back to Alaska to give birth was based on a right that she advocates to restrain. Governor Palin’s positions on women rights are not how we grow as women in society. It is not how we promote value-based choices and certainly not how we build more respect for women — and life — in this country.

  • invalid-0

    Lynn,
    As an openly gay male I’m very concerned about this demon that calls it’s self Sarah Pilan. Not only is she destroying a womens rite to choose over her own body..By making abortion illegal it will increase the amount of children to be victims of child abuse …my question is why is it legal for a man to get a vasectomy when ever he choices? yet a women has laws against when she can get her tubes tied …it’s bs if you ask me because not every women wants to be a parent nor should she be forced into it or should she have a life of abstinence…or take on the risk factors of the pill…Keep Abortion Legal women need to preserve what little rights they do have …
    Nikki

    • http://quedadecabelo.org/ invalid-0

      Hello there!

      I have to say that your comment is not that sensible. How can you compare a vasectomy with an abortion? I think that women have the right to choose whether they want an abortion or not, but your comparison is shocking and ignorant.

  • http://pelerising.blogspot.com/ invalid-0

    So, Athiest, do Americans have the right to make medical decisions about their own bodies, or not? Which is it?

    About your asessment of the medical risks of prolonged rupture of membranes, the actual medical evidence does NOT show some magic 24 hour window regarding risk of infecton. About some of your other misinformed points, the fact is that walking around CAN facilitate labor.

    Forcing women to have major abdominal surgery is just wrong. It’s often true that so-called medical “testimony” is often biased and not at all evidence-based but personal opinion of self-serving physicians who are just trying to avoid litigation.

    Also, Athiest, you seem to have missed the point of this cogent post. The point was not about whether or not Gov. Palin made a good or bad decision; the POINT is that the decision was Gov. Palin’s to make, and so-called “fetal rights” have been wielded to strip women of their rights to make personal medical decisions. These are just a few of the hundreds or thousands of other cases in which women were forced into having unwanted, and often unwarranted, medical treatments up to and including hugely invasive and risky major abdominal surgery.

  • invalid-0

    I am in complete agreement that Sarah Palin had the right to travel when she did.

    That said, my jaw is still dropped open that she did make that choice. I would never have risked myself or my soon-to-be-born child the way she did. If my sister or my daughter did the same, or my neighbor, I would be wondering what the hell was going on in her head!

    I just don’t understand why she didn’t go to a Texas hospital. It isn’t rocket science that it is risky going into active labor on an airplane.

    It would have been also perfectly reasonable for the airline to decline putting her on the plane if they had known. After all, an unscheduled landing is a major problem for everyone else on the plane. And I support home births, though I wouldn’t do it myself. If you want to invite 30 people into your hospital room to watch, no problem. But geez, I’d be pretty annoyed if I were on an airplane and somebody had a baby on it, making me a captive audience.

  • http://www.ravingatheist.com invalid-0

    So, Dr. Pete, if the woman wants the baby delivered through her nose, she has the final say and that’s that because it’s her body? Does a doctor in any case get to over-ride the woman’s choice of treatment? Apparently you believe that walking around is advisable to induce labor after two and a half days . . . how about four days, or a week or two? And who ultimately decides whether the doctor or the woman prevails? Should doctors simply be precluded from seeking court intervention, no matter what the circumstances?

    You’ve obviously given little or no thought to this issue.

  • invalid-0

    Palin is a modern day hero! It is so refreshing to hear a candidate speak the TRUTH!

    Obama doesn’t stand a chance. Palin is perfect.

  • invalid-0

    If you say so! This woman is so self righteous that she would “require” her daughter to have the baby even if she were raped!

    Oh and BTW, before you call me “less than smart again” just because my political views are not that of yours, I have a 150 IQ and an MBA in Economics. Furthermore, since you asked I have a “high paying” job well above the six figure range, a A+ credit rating, and a really nice home in the City of Chicago. Let me know if you have any other ill conceived notions of who I am.

    Knowledge+Intelligence=Power!

    Obama/Biden 2008!

    • invalid-0

      It doesn’t matter how intelligent you are if your views are plain wrong….

      Wasn’t Hitler a very intelligent person?

  • http://counterfem.blogspot.com invalid-0

    @Anonymous:

    “Intelligence” can mean many things.

    When I hear you crowing like a rooster on a dunghill about your IQ, and following this up with your MBA, your six-figure income, your credit rating, and your fancy house . . .

    . . . then it seems evident to me that you are mighty unintelligent about the impression you are making on other people. Mighty thin-skinned as well! Or can it be that you only wish to impress your like-minded and equally arrogant peers?

    Alas, my IQ is only 131! Still, I’m “intelligent” enough to read you like a book. . . eh? ;) So at least I have no ill-conceived notions about who you are.

    By the way, I pretty much agree with your political views in the present discussion. But sometimes politics is only skin deep.

  • invalid-0

    This was a response to TRUTH RETURNS!
    So just MIND YOUR OWN BUSINESS because you do not know how this conversation went, and this has nothing to do with you!

  • invalid-0

    I read that blog by Lynda Waddington and TRUTH RETURNS was being rather rude. If I could make a suggestion though, don’t get caught up when people make ignorant comments. Just be passionate about your beliefs and stick to the subject.

  • http://www.sylvieshene.com invalid-0

    Lynn, I agree with what you said and I think you would enjoy reading this article by Alice Miller: http://www.sylvieshene.com/articles-protecting_life_after_birth.htm
    I am not very good at debating and expressing myself in writing, but I like to share my experience. At the age of 20, I found myself pregnant. I knew in my heart I could not bring a new life into the world I was in. In Portugal abortion was illegal. I was fortunate enough to find a midwife that performed illegal abortions. I was also very lucky that my family did not find out. If they had found out, they would have forced me to carry the pregnancy to term by locking me up. I know my decision to have an abortion brought me closer to God or my higher consciousness. I know if I had a child without freeing myself first from the vicious circle or karmic wheel I was in, it would have gotten me deeper in the vicious circle or karmic wheel, and I would have taken an innocent child with me. I would have gotten further away from God or higher consciousness. I would never have had the opportunity to leave Portugal, where I would never have gotten the information I needed to free myself. I always knew in my heart in order for me to become free, I would have to leave home and Portugal. I would like to share with you this answer Dr. Deepak Chopra gave to a questioner on his website:

    Question: What do you think God feels about abortion?
    Answer: God’s feelings about abortion can only be known to us from the level of our own God responses. If we are focused upon the Reactive Response, then God’s view of abortion to us will be according to laws of judgment and righteousness. When we have achieved unity with God in the seventh stage, we can know what God feels directly. In this stage one knows the truth of life beyond the boundaries of time and physical body. Action and behavior is not seen as good or bad, it is seen as various expressions of one unbounded field of consciousness, existence and bliss. Any action or human choice is evaluated in terms of whether it brings you closer to this awakening of unity with God or not. That can only be determined by looking within someone’s heart, not by looking at their behavior. I don’t think God supports certain politics or other human beliefs and dislikes others. Abortion, like any human action or decision can bring one closer to God or not. It’s not the category of activity that determines whether it brings you closer to God, it is the love in your heart. If we need to specify what God’s feelings are, we could say God feels joy and love for those actions which lead to closeness to the divine and compassion and tolerance for those actions that don’t. Love Deepak

    If you would like to read more about the seven responses of God or the seven states of consciousness, you can read his book How To Know God: The Soul’s Journey Into The Mystery Of Mysteries.

    You are welcome to read my full story at my website: http://www.sylvieshene.com

    Thank you, sylvie

  • invalid-0

    to avoid painful truths.” – Deepak Chopra

    If you have ears to hear, I pray that you will:

    Deuteronomy 30:19
    This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the Lord is your life…

    Jeremiah 1:5
    Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.

    Job 10:8-12
    Your hands shaped me and made me… Did you not clothe me with skin and flesh and knit me together with bones and sinews? You gave me life and showed me kindness, and in your providence watched over my spirit.

    Job 31:15
    Did not he who made me in the womb make them? Did not the same one form us both within our mothers?

    Psalm 139:13-16
    For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body.

    Isaiah 44:2
    This is what the Lord says — he who made you, who formed you in the womb, and who will help you…

    Isaiah 44:24
    This is what the Lord says — your Redeemer, who formed you in the womb: “I am the Lord, who has made all things, who alone stretched out the heavens, who spread out the earth by myself…”

    Isaiah 46:3-4
    Listen to me, O house of Jacob, all you who remain of the house of Israel, you whom I have upheld since you were conceived, and have carried since your birth. Even to your old age and gray hairs, I am He, I am He who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you.

    Isaiah 49:5
    And now the Lord says — he who formed me in the womb to be his servant to bring Jacob back to him and gather Israel to himself, for I am honored in the eyes of the Lord and my God has been my strength — [49:6] He says: “It is too small a thing for you to be my servant to restore the tribes of Jacob and bring back those of Israel I have kept. I will also make you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring my salvation to the ends of the earth.”

    • http://sovoosbaratos.com/ invalid-0

      Wow that is a nice copy and paste. Is this bible school or what?
      I think women should have the right to decide, but some people are overwhelmed by circumstances and then the doctors expertise must be followed.

  • mellankelly1

    I am not very good at debating and expressing myself in writing

    Well, for someone who claims not to be good at expressing yourself, you did one excellent job of it!  Thank you for sharing your story.

  • invalid-0

    I used to worship at this altar as well, but realized that these can all be taken from me. Remember that God will not be mocked. Give credit where credit is due. Be careful not to take your place at the head of the table, but wait until it is offered to you.

    I am glad that you have been blessed with many talents, but search your soul about electing people who stand for nothing. They are simply after the equation you so eloquently added together for us.

  • invalid-0

    Sylvie,
    Thank you for sharing your story with us.
    Truth Returns, you are showing how much of a “KOOK” you really are by quoting scriptures from the bible.
    Are you one of those people who stand on the corner with a megaphone shouting the bible?
    As you stated to someone else on a prior blog, “Go and seek some professional help.”

  • invalid-0

    I am sure that you had everything “taken” away from you because you are a member of the uneducated class. You are probably one of the ones who thought nothing of “living like the Joneses”, and purchased a home which you could not afford at a sub-prime rate.

  • invalid-0

    What does “God” have to do with not being able to pay your bills?
    It is called good money management (saving for a rainy day).

  • invalid-0

    Women have been having children far longer than there have been doctors. Midwives and shaman or healers were fetched to attend to the laboring mother. Women were prevented from doing this service at one point in history, because doctors were a male dominant group.
    Thankfully we got through all this – my maternal grandmother had all 5 of her children delivered at home by my grandfather.
    What this article is trying to state is that women deserve to have the right to do what is right for them. It is a personal freedom, the right not to have some government or group dictate what we can or can’t do when it comes to our own bodies.
    If this goes on, what is to stop them from taking total control of what a person can and can’t do. No more living wills, the government or some group will decide is your body is kept alive after an accident. They will decide if you’ve got a chance or if it would be better financially to just harvest your organs and dispose of the rest.
    No need to worry about burials or anything, they will decide what is the most efficiant way to dispose of the remains.
    Big Brother is growing, try reading 1884 or maybe you can just wait and see what happens to our children, our grandchildren in the future. Most women are not getting abortions for no reason, the ones that choose to do it often wrestle with their choice. It’s a very personal and intimate choice. It deserves to be solely a women’s choice.

    • invalid-0

      “What this article is trying to state is that women deserve to have the right to do what is right for them. It is a personal freedom, the right not to have some government or group dictate what we can or can’t do when it comes to our own bodies.”

      Okay, the problem is, at this point in the pregnancy it isn’t just the mother’s life that is in danger, but also the baby’s/fetus’ if that is how you’d like to put it…

  • invalid-0

    Too bad your story was followed by a Bible-thumper who deliberately misunderstands the intent of quoted scripture which are not so much rules for living but more like organizational by-laws. I’m sure every successful religion has similar exhortations because one never rises above cult status if the same exact people keep believing in it until death. Therefore, the “flock” must increase and that’s done in only two ways, by conversion and by birth. Since the sex-Nazis insist the act should be only for procreation purposes, all not hetero are verboten (how dare they have pleasure with no risk of pregnancy).
    Religions based in Christianity are the biggest racket going because it’s all about the benjamins. You cut out a fetus and you’re denying them a donor. Had Roe never taken place, the Catholic Church would have had plenty more donors bringing much more income so it could fend off all those child sex abuse cases. Celibacy was introduced long after the Apostles died because too many priests willed their possessions to their families instead of the Vatican. Every Christian variant points its finger at the others the way advertisers go after the consumer, as if Southern Baptists were Acuras and Pentecostals Cadillacs.

    These charlatans put up the parking lots long before Paradise was paved. “This is reli-jun; YOUR Reli-jun”
    –Johnny “Rotten” Lydon

  • invalid-0

    That was well said!

  • invalid-0

    I didn’t manage to read every comment on here, but I was wondering; If women have full rights to choose how and when anything touches their body, with or without thought given about the health of the fetus (pulling it out through her nose, for example), should that woman take full, legal responsibility for the well-being of that fetus if it happens to die because of her decisions?

    I’m fully willing to give women the right to deliver their babies however they want, but if that baby dies because the mother is stupid or stubborn about C-sections, it should be on her head, and she should face punishment. I don’t know how many women die from C-sections, but I’m pretty sure it’s a hell of a lot less than the babies that died before C-sections were around.

  • invalid-0

    I don’t understand something and maybe someone can help me figure it out…Doesn’t Sarah Palin, as a conservative, believe in less government? Then why does she think there should be government involved in this extremely personal issue (human rights)? How is that justified? Also, if the government made rules that it is unhealthy for a fetus to be born to an “elderly” matron (I was called that when I had a baby at 35), what could she have done?

  • http://www.oyun.cx invalid-0

    I think women should have the right to decide, but some people are overwhelmed by circumstances and then the doctors expertise must be followed.

  • invalid-0

    “I’m fully willing to give women the right to deliver their babies however they want, but if that baby dies because the mother is stupid or stubborn about C-sections, it should be on her head, and she should face punishment.”

    We strive for a world where people like you have no power and no ability to give or deny any women their rights.

  • http://www.znatokokon.ru invalid-0

    Lynn, thanks. Good article.

    Okha.

  • http://www.clemens.asia invalid-0

    Lynn well spoken/written. I total agree with you. Thank you for sharing it with us.