VIDEO: The Gibson Interview: Palin on Roe v. Wade

In part two of ABC’s interview with Gov. Sarah Palin, Charlie Gibson asked about a range of social issues, including Roe v. Wade. Because of the way ABC edited the interview differently for its evening news program, hour-long prime-time special on Palin, and late night news programs, different lines were cut, but the transcript below offers the most complete accounting of the interview as it pertains to Roe v. Wade

Gibson: Roe v. Wade, do you think it should be reversed? 

Palin: I think it should and I think states should be able to decide that issue.

Gibson: It’s a critical issue for so many women.

Palin: It is.

Gibson: You believe women should not have that choice?

Palin: It is a very critical and very sensitive and a personal issue also for so many women and men across this nation. I am pro-life. I do respect other people’s opinion on this also and I think that a culture of life is best for America. What I want to do when elected Vice-President with John McCain, hopefully be able to reach out and work with those who are on the other side of this issue because I know we can all agree on the need for and the desire for fewer abortions in America and great support for adoption, for other alternatives that women can and should be empowered to embrace to allow that culture of life. That’s my personal opinion on this Charlie.

Gibson: John McCain would allow abortion in the case of rape and incest, you believe in it only in the case of when the life of the mother is in danger.

Palin: That is my personal opinion.

Gibson: Would you change and accept it in rape and incest?

Palin: My personal opinion is that abortion allowed, if the life of the mother is in danger, please understand me on this, I do understand McCain’s position on this. I do understand others who are very passionate about this issue who have a differing view. The problem is there are too many abortions and women are hurt and I just believe it is time we evolve the debate even, into more long-term solutions for the issue we’re talking about.

It seems odd to respect other people’s "opinions" on the issue of Roe, but not respect their "choices."  Repealing Roe v. Wade will not stop abortion, only make criminals of women who seek them. Women will be hurt most by not being able to make the best private medical decision for themselves and their families. On the issue of adoption, while everyone can agree it is one important choice, it is a far better talking point, for politicians in both parties, than it is an actual reality in the lives of most women with unintended pregnancies. According to Guttmacher’s Cory Richards,

Politicians from both parties frequently promote tax credits and
other incentives to ease the way for adoptive parents to demonstrate
that they want to "do something" about abortion. Facilitating
adoptions, especially of hard-to-place children, deserves our strong
support. But it does nothing to affect the abortion rate. To assert
that it does is either ill-informed or simply cynical, and it should

Meanwhile, we know that very few women actually place their infants
for adoption. In the United States, fewer than 14,000 newborns were
voluntarily relinquished in 2003 (the latest year for which an estimate
is available), according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human
Services. That proportion — just under 1% of all the children born to
never-married women — has remained constant for almost two decades.
It’s down considerably from the early 1970s, but even in those days,
more than nine in 10 unmarried women who gave birth kept their babies.


As good as the adoption talking point is, the other tried and true talking point for anti-choicers is all about "states’ rights".  Here is the reality.

Twenty-three states would automatically ban abortion if Roe is overturned, and according to Donna Crane of NARAL Pro-Choice America, "the reversal of Roe would clear the way for a Congress currently dominated by anti-choice politicians to ban abortion and thus override any state laws guaranteeing a woman’s right to choose."

The social conservative mantra of "states’ rights" only matters if the states are doing what the social conservatives want them to.  Recall that Oregon twice passed it’s Death with Dignity Law (94 and 97), only to see social conservatives attempt to overturn that state law twice in Congress, and twice in the federal courts.  The most conservative Justices on the Supreme Court; Scalia, Roberts and Alito — the three most often associated with "strict constructionism" or " not legislating from the bench" — especially to overturn an issue reserved to the states, were in the minority of the 6-3 Gonzales v. Oregon decision upholding the rights that Oregon citizens voted themselves. The conservatives voted against states’ rights when they didn’t agree with what the state had done.

Social conservatives will not be satisfied returning the issue to the states. They will tie up Congress with votes to ban abortion just as they have for the past 30 years. Social conservatives will wage war in every state legislature continuing their ever more extreme brand of violence and uncompromising politics, using this issue to divide the nation and impose their religio-political agenda for another generation, rather than try to bring us together around an education and prevention agenda, like the Prevention First Act that many progressives support.  If you think the nation is divided now, just wait to see what the extremists in the anti-choice movement will do to pass abortion bans in every state.

As nice as the "working together" talking point might sound, the fact is John McCain has had plenty of opportunity to work to reduce unintended pregnancies in his 26 years in Washington. 

Instead he has voted 22 times against birth control and family planning. Two examples:

  • McCain voted to eliminate the
    entire Title X family-planning program that provides low-income women
    with birth control and cancer screenings [Weicker motion to table Helms
    amendment to FY’89 Labor, HHS, and Education appropriations bill,
    H.R.4783, 7/25/88; motion to invoke cloture on Family Planning
    Amendments Act, S.110, 9/26/90.].


  • McCain also voted against requiring insurance plans to cover prescription contraception. [Clinton/Reid amendment to FY’06 Budget Resolution, S.Con.Res.18, 3/17/05.]

The mainstream media can’t seem to get past questions about when life begins, and the most basic restatement of a candidate’s beliefs about whether or how women should have the right to make their own private medical decisions. So the candidates, in both parties, get away with pat answers and soundbites that don’t begin to reflect the realities of sexual and reproductive health that women face everyday.

It’s time we hold the media and candidates in both parties accountable and force them to discuss the realities of sexual and reproductive health, not just their carefully crafted talking points as they try to broaden their appeal.


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  • invalid-0

    “the reversal of Roe would clear the way for a Congress currently dominated by anti-choice politicians to ban abortion and thus override any state laws guaranteeing a woman’s right to choose.”


    Isn’t the Congress controlled by the Democrats? Wouldn’t they simply try to enact the Freedom of Choice Act or simply block pro-life efforts at the federal level?

    Plus, most of the laws in those 23 states that would ban abortion are old unenforced laws. Wouldn’t public opinion in each state, which is probably more lax than the laws on the books, simply dictate abortion law in those states?

  • scott-swenson


    Good question. Democrats have had a majority in Congress for two years, but sexual and reproductive health issues, as you know, do not break down along partisan lines. As moderate Republicans become an endangered species, far-right social conservatives in Congress have exerted amazing leverage while they were in the majority from 1994-2006, and even from a minority position, especially on social issues. While there is a growing bi-partisan group working on education and prevention agendas, that include pro-choice Republicans and pro-life Democrats, as well pro-choice Democrats, the arcane rules of the Congress often put more leverage in seniority, or in the hands of certain members (especially in the Senate) and committees that allow a minority to manipulate negotiations, especially on hot-button issues. The new Democratic majority has not been a profile in courage in standing up to social conservatives on a range of sexual and reproductive health issues, much to the chagrin of public health advocates, progressives and many moderates ready to move beyond the extremist politics of social issues. A larger pro-choice majority, from both parties, is needed to truly reflect the pro-education, pro-prevention, pro-choice values that the vast majority of Americans share.

    Be the change you seek,

    Scott Swenson, Editor

  • invalid-0

    Palin Pro -life: What does that mean: Palin-“when I get into office I will support fewer abortion.

    Pro-life: Thy shall not murder.

    Palin Homsexual: What does that mean: Palin-I will not judge this sin.

    Homosexual: An abomination in the eyes of God.

    Palin: I am a true believer and have lived my life according to the word of God.

  • invalid-0

    The self-righteous one really said “I will not judge this sin?” When do we get to see her part the waters so the oil underneath comes flowing into our gas-tanks fully-refined. Does she really believe that nothing exuding from any orifice on her body lacks a discernable stench? She makes Dubya sound positively atheistic!

  • invalid-0

    So it’s not enough for Palin to respect and understand your views, she HAS to agree with you as well?

    Newsflash: After nearly 30 years, Roe v. Wade as a scare tactic and litmus test is done played out.

    How many times did y’all think you could go on crying wolf anyway? First it was Reagan as the boogieman (oh and it was a done deal that he was going to get us into a nuclear war too, remember? Funny, when he was done the world was a safer place), then Bush One, on up to today and Bush Two, and golly gee, in all that time the sky has not fallen.

    Like any salesman, McCain has modified his presentation to make the sale, but this is a man who publicly derided Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson as “agents of intolerance” just a few short years ago, and let’s face it, once you’ve figured that out, once you’ve got their number, that never goes away. McCain is far, far less likely to appoint intolerant, activist Supreme Court judges than any of his republican predecessors; Roe v. Wade survived that conservative onslaught, and it will surely survive McCain/Palin.

    What the country cannot survive is another Clinton-esque social experiment, of the type we are paying for right now. From 1994 to 2000 Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac committed to buying $3 trillion dollars worth of mortgages from lenders who were encouraged to write loans to a segment of society that they said had “been left behind” in the economic good times, too many of whom would never have qualified for a home loan otherwise, and who with no down payment and no income verification got into major commitments they had little chance of fulfilling. And $3 trillion buys a lot of shaky mortgages: Fannie and Freddie today hold the notes on more than half of all mortgages in the US. And if that were not enough, the whole program was shockingly corrupt as well. Today our financial markets are a mess as a result of this failed Clinton-era experiment. Google “American Dream Commitment,” and “Franklin Raines accounting practices bonuses” as a start, then to see who wanted to reign ’em in and who did not Google “Federal Housing Enterprise Regulatory Reform Act of 2005” and “New Agency Proposed to Oversee Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae.”

    Last week Treasury committed $200 billion to a so-called bailout of Fannie and Freddie, in reality that enormous sum is nothing more than a stop-gap to get us past the election, it will be up to the next administration to figure out what to do. With this in mind, somehow the pie in the sky, take from the rich and give to the poor democrats don’t seem like the best choice.

  • invalid-0

    “McCain is far, far less likely to appoint intolerant, activist Supreme Court judges than any of his republican predecessors”

    This is the exact argument social conservatives used to convince really stupid women to vote for George Bush and Poppy and look what happened.

    “What the country cannot survive is another Clinton-esque social experiment, of the type we are paying for right now.”

    That’s the problem with republicans, they never, ever take responsibility for their actions.

  • invalid-0

    Take from the rich, eh? What about those guys at Freddie and Fannie who were making six-figures and doing stuff behind Barney Frank’s back? We should all believe neither Paulson nor Bernanke were privy to the mortgage meltdown possibilities and signing-statement Dubya was powerless (sure is when he wants government to stop regulating anything but what females do with their bodies)? And as for Reagan, he left US with the largest deficit in history, surpassed by the current Diablo after Clinton gave US a surplus. Reagan did begin the Global Gag Rule, perpetuated by the Bushmen. So those unwanted pregnancies we could have avoided but didn’t thanks to Reagan grew up to: fix healthcare, cure cancer and AIDS, stop 9/11, maintain due diligence regulation of the financial sector, prevent Global Warming, secure our borders and ports, keep children off drugs. You, who thump that Bible in self-righteousness had better hope there is no hereafter, because in all likelihood, Reagan and the his conservative forebears inflamed all of the above by removing choice from the world’s women and you who applaud their mean-spirited actions will ALL be accordingly judged.
    I never said Reagan would bring Armageddon: at the time of his reelection, I merely opined a nuclear device would detonate somewhere in the world and people would be killed as a result – the reader can conclude if Chernobyl fits the prediction, but Bush-McCain-Palin, et. al., do want to assure the End of Days occurs in their lifetime, slackers that they are.
    Finally, since you apparently “NeverSayNo,” I really, really hope you use lots of protection. I your mind you might never be raped (won’t say “no”) but in actuality you could get and transmit an STD.

  • invalid-0

    It’s supposed to read: “In your mind.” My mistake.

  • invalid-0

    I really don’t know what to say…Even now that a fair amount of time has passed from the heated election campaigns I still am clouded in terms of why wouldn’t Palin be prepared for these interviews. If someone is running for office the least they can do so master a few discussion topics that they already know that are heated….