Choice, Palin Style


As the featured speaker at a pro-life banquet last week, Sarah Palin unexpectedly identified with women who have abortions—though she never used the “a” word:

I had found out that I was pregnant while out of state first, at an oil and gas conference. While out of state, there just for a fleeting moment, wow, I knew, nobody knows me here, nobody would ever know. I thought, wow, it is easy, could be easy to think, maybe, of trying to change the circumstances. No one would know. No one would ever know.

It’s interesting that Palin’s first thought was what other people would think. It’s not surprising—for women faced with this choice, it can seem like everyone’s watching you. In Palin’s description, a legal procedure takes on the secrecy and shame of an illegal act. For many women faced with this choice, a dense and complicated sense of judgment is indeed part of the experience and part of the decision.

Palin claims, though, that her decision wasn’t determined by what other people would think—after all, as she says, she was traveling when she found out she was pregnant and she felt anonymous:

Ultimately, Palin said, she decided she had to "walk the walk" concerning her long-standing antiabortion views. . . . "I had just enough faith to know that my trying to change the circumstances wasn’t any answer," said Palin.

She seems to be saying that the decision to have her baby was a way for her to stay true to herself. But for a politician with a long anti-choice history, is it that simple? Could Palin have really considered an abortion without considering how she would reconcile it not just with her conscience, but with her political past and future?

What’s more interesting is the way that she argues for choice in her speech, as Ruth Marcus points out in the Washington Post:

The "good decision to choose life," as she put it, would be no decision at all, because abortion would not be an option.

This is not a particularly complex point, but it is one toward which Palin seems deliberately obtuse. It came up at the Republican convention last summer, when the Palins issued a statement about their daughter’s pregnancy: "We’re proud of Bristol’s decision to have her baby." Again, in the world according to Palin, there would be no decision at all.

The themes of Palin’s speech and of her reaction to Bristol’s pregnancy are indeed thought, reflection, and choice. Palin has unintentionally demonstrated that there’s a way in which a pro-choice world honors the decision to carry an unplanned pregnancy more than a world without choice. Palin had the chance to consider abortion and reject that choice, and that experience is now bound up in her love for her son. Other women may identify with her personal journey. Some, however, will not, and that’s the idea behind choice.

Palin experienced something that personalized the abortion debate for her. But she’s wrong to claim to understand the full spectrum of women’s experiences:

“So we went through some things a year ago that now lets me understand a woman’s, a girl’s temptation to maybe try to make it all go away if she has been influenced by society to believe that she’s not strong enough or smart enough or equipped enough or convenienced enough to make the choice to let the child live. I do understand what these women, what these girls go through in that thought process.”

I would argue with Palin over the idea that society encourages women to have abortions. But whatever pernicious pressures the pro-life movement imagines, there’s something far more powerful than influence, and it’s called legislation. Women currently have the freedom to be strong, smart, and equipped mothers, but if Sarah Palin has her way, women will be not influenced, but told, by the law, that they’re not strong enough or smart enough or equipped enough to make their own choice.

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  • progo35

    I think that this is just twisting Palin’s words to fit the pro choice/abortion agenda. Palin was simply articulating that she was tempted to do something that many people consider wrong. If that option was unavailable, that thought of "no one would know" wouldn’t really be a factor, since she would have to carry the pregnancy to term and decide what to do in the face of that. Palin was not saying that the choice to terminate is acceptable or honorable, she was admitting that she is human and, as she put it, also wanted to make the challenges she envisioned with/for her child/prospective child go away.
    Moreover, she did not say that abortion was her "fist thought." That in itself indicates a bias that assumes that anyone who learns about a fetal disability considers abortion before anything else, because, according to the concurrent worldview, disability is horrible.

    • invalid-0

      I fail to see where Kathleen Reeves twisted Sarah Palin’s comments. Ms. Reeves is merely commenting on the fact that Sarah Palin could see her situation, if only for a moment, through the eyes of choice. We all see the anti-choice spin Mrs. Palin chose to put on her speech, but I’m actually quite proud that she could understand why other women choose to end their pregnancies–lack of finances, lack of emotional support, etc.

      Ms. Reeves post contains no mention of fetal disability. If Mrs. Palin had just found out she was pregnant, she wouldn’t have known, so it’s not an issue in this context. It was Mrs. Palin who mentioned that it was possible for her to end her pregnancy; no one suggested she should. Ms. Reeves is simply trying to connect human beings to each other and help us relate to one another, which is something this country and this world desperately needs.

    • invalid-0

      Sarah, yes indeedy, said that it was her first thought. Are you inside of her head? Then why are you trying to correct quoted matierial?? Yes, Sarah Palin did consider abortion. ANY woman in her state with a mongoloid fetus who has had tests for these things WOULD. Fortubnatly for dear Sarah, she had the money, resources, and life situation where she could leave the child with nannies, sisters, and anyone and everyone and avoid her responsibility to the child as she has demonstrated that is the way that she handles her special needs son. Not everyone is so fortunate who finds themself in that situation!!

  • invalid-0

    I don’t think that Mrs. Palin is being truthful about her decision making. She was four months pregnany–had undergone an ultrasound amniocentesis before she even told her HUSBAND she was pregnant. It sounds as though she was keeping her options open.

    • invalid-0

      You need to listen to the speech again … Todd knew about the baby …but what she said is “Todd don’t know about the result of the test”…

  • invalid-0

    She said that the feminists are alive and well in Alaska, In fact she believes that Palin and many other women are trying to outdo the men in hunting,politics everything. Apparently their are a lot of conservatives in Alaska and this is the way women are fighting back. Interesting Spin on it anyway. I wonder if she really is against abortion? Or if it is done out patriarchal pressures.

  • progo35

    Anon-

    I really think that this comes down to the difference between someone who is pro life but has empathy for why women choose abortion, and someone who does not. It is my sense that Palin was trying to say what I and other pro life people have said here: that she opposes liberal abortion laws, not the women who have those abortions-she was sharing an experience that she knew other women shared as a way of saying that she supports women, even if she does not support liberalized abortion laws.

    "Well behaved women seldom make history."-Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

  • invalid-0

    I think there is a reality check needed on your statement, “…if Sarah Palin has her way, women will be not influenced, but told, by the law, that they’re not strong enough or smart enough or equipped enough to make their own choice.”

    Palin’s been governor of Alaska for 2.5 years, and guess what, abortion is still readily available. Alaska has some of the most liberal abortion laws in the country, she has never once tried to undo them, period. Matter of fact, her opinion on the matter is that Roe v. Wade is unconstitutional, should be repealed, and the issue of whether or not abortion is legal or not should be left to the individual states. If that were the case, a few states would most likely make abortion illegal, others would impose some sort of restrictions, such as on partial birth abortion, and most would leave it as it is now.

    Rest assured, that when you are ready for an abortion, even if Roe v. Wade is repealed, you’ll be able to get one.

    Now, doesn’t that make you feel much better?

    You should actually think with your head before letting lies and half truths escape into print.

  • invalid-0

    Palin is now focused on the next round of presidential primaries, and to win those she believes she has to advocate a clear anti-choice platform, but a kinder, gentler one than indicated by her convention diatribes, in order to pick up some moderates and independents. We will see her a lot more in the lower 48 in the coming months, and she will continue to stir the lunatic fringe with anti choice, anti Obama rhetoric. She will take this tact because America knows she is clueless about substantive issues; and she needs to fire up the religious crazies to secure air time with Hannity, Rush and O’Reilly–who, while repulsive, can influence moderate voters. Palin will win the primaries because the moderate Republicans are afraid to bear the wrath of the wingnuts among the party leaders and general electorate. The press has been all to conciliatory to the moron Palin as well. Folks, if our economy is in the dumper 4 years hence, Palin will win the presidency and we all will suffer through 4 years of a Palin Winter that will be far worse for America than a nuclear Winter.

  • paul-bradford

    I wrote this yesterday on the Washington Post ‘blog. I’ll repeat it here:

     

    Some of us who want justice for the very young have figured out that ‘choice’ is not our enemy. Sarah Palin did indeed make the case for choice. She also made the case for life. It’s only because people on both ‘sides’ have worked so hard to demonize each other that we perceive these goals to be in opposition.

     

    Little by little we are changing the conversation away from "May a woman get an abortion?" to "Should a woman get an abortion?" (The new question assumes that the old question has been answered in the affirmative).

     

    Instead of Pro-Lifers seeking to prohibit abortion we ought to be awakening women (and men as well) to the fact that parental responsibilities begin before birth, and to the fact that parental responsibilities include responsibility for a child who is sick or handicapped. Sarah Palin’s personal testimony is part of this awakening process.

     

    Over the years the Pro-Life movement has made little success at restricting access to abortion, but it has done a great job at communicating with women who have a choice to make. This is evidenced by the fact that the abortion rate has declined from 29.4 abortions per 1000 women of childbearing age in 1980 to 19.4 currently.

     

    Let’s keep up the good work!

     

    Paul Bradford, Pro-Life Catholics for Choice

     

    What I’d like to add here is the thought that men, too, need to awaken to their responsibilities as parents.

     

    An issue that matters to everyone is how the society teaches parents to care for their children. Some people believe that we care for our children because such care comes naturally, by instinct. I disagree with that idea. We learn, initially from our own parents, but more generally from the society we’re born into, what sort of responsibilities we will have when we become parents.

     

    The fact that Sarah Palin cares what other people think of her parenting decisions indicates that she’s not a sociopath. God help the kid whose parents DON’T care what others think of their parenting!

     

    If you’re a good parent, it’s because you learned to be one. It didn’t come to you like breathing.

     

    Paul Bradford

    Pro-Life Catholics for Choice

  • paul-bradford

    Obviously you don’t have a lot of faith in your fellow Americans.  No doubt you’re ‘above average’ but it might surprise you to learn that even average people care about sanity and competence.  

     

    I will also surprise you to realize that a lot of average people are working very hard to make certain that the economy isn’t ‘in the dumper’ in four years.

     

    Just a thought. 

     

    Paul Bradford

    Pro-Life Catholics for Choice

  • invalid-0

    Palin’s been governor of Alaska for 2.5 years, and guess what, abortion is still readily available.

    There is 1 (one) clinic in the entire state of Alaska and most women go South to procure an abortion.

    Mrs Palin, otoh, is on record for opposing all abortion even in cases of rape or incest. As the governor of Alaska where her incompetence and irrational governing style make her unpopular even within the State GOP and most certainly the republican majority in the senate, she wasn’t even able to get her neanderthal pick for AG confirmed. Do you seriously think we’re stupid enough to buy the notion that she has the power or political capital to change abortion law in the state of Alaska?
    Mind you, this is a woman who when she was mayor of Wasilla had rape victims paying to process their own forensic evidence kits. She’s such a right wing tool that the AK legislature was forced to pass a law ending this practice anywhere in the state.
    Don’t get me wrong, I’m hoping for a Gingrich/Palin or a Joe the Plumber/Palin ticket in ’12. Nothing would please me more than if you social conservatives ran this stupid, shallow, deeply unpleasant woman.

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

    I don’t live in Alaska, but I read that the latest polling there had Palin with more than 60% job approval, this includes the polling by the liberal anti-Palin The Daily Kos. Is this why she is driving her haters nuts?

  • invalid-0

    Here is a link to the latest Palin polling out of Alaska.
    http://www.thealaskastandard.com/?q=node/232

    Mind you, Lisa Murkowski is the daughter of the guy she ran against for governor. It does not appear that Mrs. Palin’s raad to the White House will be through the senate.

    Oh, and by the way, here’s a link to the national Palin polls, some of which are even from this year.
    http://www.pollingreport.com/p.htm

    But why pay attention to objective data, you folks should run her anyway.

  • invalid-0

    In Alaska because she is trying to outdo the men as I said before. It makes sense if you understand physcology.” If you can’t beat’ em join’ em”. She is obviously a confused and frustrated woman. Full of anger which she takes out on innocent animals and the planet itself. She cares nothing about endangered species or is it that she is trying to please the patriarchs to be loved or liked? Something is not right with her and some day it will come out.How many women do you know could stand in front of two turkeys being slaughtered and bled out , and be laughing and carrying on like it was nothing. Cold blooded. She makes me ill.

  • progo35

    animal or human being?

    Wolf killed from helicopter because of overpopulation vs. human fetus killed at 30 weeks because of down syndrome. Personally, although I’d like to protect both, I’m going with the 30 week old fetus.

    "Well behaved women seldom make history."-Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

  • invalid-0

    Acording to the Humane Society of US and defenders of wildlife. The wolves are being killed to preserve wild game to bring more hunters into Alaska. It is a money game and the wolves suffer. This is not needed. It is not just wolves but Beluga whales, polar bears,bears, and now a near extinct water bird. God created the animals and said to respect them. This is not respect it is poaching ,canned hunting, and now poison with 1080 a deadly toxin that can kill up to 100 people that get near it. it is considered to be a terrorist toxin! Have you seen all the dead animals on the walls, Safari Club-poaching these people are sick! This is not ‘normal’hunting it is sickness. You know what is said about how a person can be judged by the way they treat animals.

  • progo35

    Okay…I need to do some more research on that to see which of us has the most accurate info. And, I’m not for shooting animals at all…in my view, animals should be left alone unless they are being hunted for needed food/clothing/shelter, which isn’t usually the case.

    Be that as it may, however, if I have to choose which one to protect, I’m still going with the developed fetus.

    "Well behaved women seldom make history."-Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

  • therealistmom

    The fact that there is no "wolf overpopulation" aside (another poster has already explained the connection with big game animals and income from trophy hunting) very few abortions are ever performed at such a late term. In fact, it would be illegal to perform an abortion at 30 weeks for that reason in almost all circmstances- a pregnancy might be ended because of fetal death, or because of a condition that may directly cause the death of the mother (severe hydroencephaly) where the fetus would not survive anyway. Most of the time labor would be induced because the fetus is past viability, and every effort made to save it. Most states have a cutoff at 24 weeks (potential viability) except for life or health of teh mother and the circumstances have to be justified by medical professionals. People are not walking in and killing viable fetuses, Down syndrome or no.

    So the question would be- the wolf, or a fetus under 24 weeks that has not developed a capacity for thought, pain, or independent existence. If the pregnancy was wanted I would, of course, try to help the woman. Note I say the woman; if it was a random fetus (lol, I know, but bear with me) and the wolf… well, I’d probably take the wolf.

  • progo35

    It is certainly not my intention to give inaccurate information. This is what I base that assertion on, generally:

    http://www.drhern.com/medicalprocedures.asp
    This late term abortion provider specifically asserts that he does carry out procedures that are over 26 weeks gestation and that this is usually because of a fetal anomaly

    http://www.drtiller.com/fetanom.html
    Although he does not specify a cut off point, Dr. tiller’s website indicates that he performs post viability abortions

    In the essay, “A normal woman” from the book “Choice,” that author recounts getting an abortion for Trisomy 18 while the fetus was still alive at 28 weeks. (obviously, the majority, if not all, babies with trisomy 18 die during the birthing process or shortly afterwards, but the fetus was alive when the abortion occurred, it was not deceased.)

    Moreover, realistmom, sometimes I wonder whether some of these late term abortion doctors interpret “viability” to mean sustained survival outside the womb, or even life without a disability. In any case, data indicates that such terminations on live fetuses do occur if the fetus can be found to have some sort of anomaly that doesn’t follow the doctor’s notion of viability or that impacts the woman’s emotional, social, or economic health, as elucidated in Doe v. Bolton.

    So, that’s what I based that assertion on.

    "Well behaved women seldom make history."-Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

  • progo35

    I’ve also based that information on other sources, such as magazine articles and literature from both sides of the abortion debate, it’s just that this information is the most accesssible to me from my laptop

    "Well behaved women seldom make history."-Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

  • progo35

    Also, viability can now be as early as 21 weeks, but that aside, I think evidence indicates that abortions for fetal anomaly are post-viability much more often than we all might want hope.

  • progo35

    I don’t think we should confuse human worth with animal worth. Animals should be treated humanely, but it is improper to equate human life with animal life in terms of worth, even if the legal status of that human life is disputed.

  • progo35

    Also, on his homepage, Tiller specifically says that he performs abortions after 24 weeks:
    http://www.drtiller.com/mainpg.html

    "Well behaved women seldom make history."-Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

  • progo35

    http://drtiller.com/ic3.html

    Moreover, this description of the abortion procedures at Tiller’s clinic indicate that the fetus is injected to accomplish fetal death so that the fetus will not be born alive. If the fetus were already dead, and thereby nonviable, an injection would be unnecessary.

    "Well behaved women seldom make history."-Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

  • invalid-0

    Palin has never pushed for an abortion ban. She usually talks about abortion in personal terms that aren’t very different from what a pro-choice woman would use. My understanding is that she’s increasing funding for maternal and child health programs, and she supports comprehensive sex education (Alaska is not an abstinence-only state).

    You’ve still got a bit of an election hangover, when everyone went hog-wild about Palin. That served its purpose, but now that the smoke has cleared its important to get back to the facts. Go back to original sources – Alaska news reports and such -and you’ll find that Palin is not nearly as extreme on RH issues as the campaign people made out.

  • invalid-0

    “Far worse than a nuclear winter”? Get a grip. Seriously, dude.

  • invalid-0

    “Far worse than a nuclear winter”? Get a grip. Seriously, dude.

  • invalid-0

    Again with the campaign rhetoric, which has no place here. Stick to FACTS.

    No woman in Wasilla ever paid for a “rape kit.” The budget that Palin signed included $3,000, if I remember correctly, for evidence collection in rape cases. The notion that the police department was considering was having the hospital bill the woman’s health insurance company for the cost of her exam because they figured it was a kind of medical treatment. It was a terrible idea, it was wrong, and when the legislature caught wind of it, they acted to preclude anyone from trying this again. End of story.

  • invalid-0

    On the contrary, the facts are that Palin’s base of far right social conservatives bullies have managed to pretty much destroy the Republican party and, in their desperate need for political relevance, are are trying to polish Palin up for another run by lying about her record and her extreme anti-woman views.
    Why not double down and start babbling THE FACTS of how Obama isn’t really eligible to be President because he wasn’t born in the US?

  • invalid-0

    “overpopulation” of wolves when we most assuredly have an over population of humans- those humans infringe on the territory of other beings that have to share the planet with greedy humans.
    And then those people are against measures that help to make the HUMAN population manageable.
    Sorry but the planet does have a limit.
    It’s good to realize this not just on earth day but every day.

  • invalid-0

    Yes whoever gave humans the right to destroy everything in their path for the sake of money and greed? If everyone on this planet were caring and unselfish there would not be any hunger,poverty,homelessness,violence,discrimination etc.
    Kind of like what Jesus was trying to tell everyone. Hint, Hint!

  • http://www.uprinting.com/envelope-printing.html invalid-0

    The abortion issue will never be fully resolved, I think. The differences in people’s beliefs and morals will forever be an area of debate in deciding about this.

  • invalid-0

    She did charge women hundreds for their own rape kits! That is an undisputable FACT!!

  • invalid-0

    Thank you, the realist mom! I couldn’t have said it better myself.

  • progo35

    Maybe you shouldn’t use a spin on "mentally challenged" to insult someone. Just a thought.  

     

     

    "Well behaved women seldom make history."-Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

  • invalid-0

    I’m quite certain that she wasn’t trying to mock or insult you, dear. I’m sure she was just pointing out that your friend was making shit up and making a poor job of it