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Recent events in Sarah Palin’s life were foreshadowed by a speech she gave to Alaska Right to Life last fall.
BY Joel DavidsonREGISTER CORRESPONDENT
ANCHORAGE, Alaska — The attentive
audience never knew that Gov. Sarah Palin was pregnant with her fifth child.
It was Nov. 24, 2007, and Palin was
giving a passionate pro-life speech during Alaska Right to Life’s annual
fundraiser in Anchorage.
It would be another four months
before the 44-year-old Alaska governor announced her surprise pregnancy with
her fifth child. On April 18, 2008, she gave birth to her son, and Alaskans
discovered that the little boy, Trig, was diagnosed with Down syndrome.
Before any of this became public,
Palin’s stance on unplanned pregnancy was stated, perhaps most clearly, back on
that quiet November night, months before Sen. John McCain ushered her into the
national spotlight with an invitation to run as vice president of the United
Speaking in Anchorage to pro-life
advocates, family friends and local politicians, Palin urged Alaskans to defend
unborn life — even when situations were less than ideal.
But the audience didn’t know how
personally connected to the issue the governor was.
“I am not calloused about the issue
of unplanned pregnancy,” she told the unsuspecting crowd. “I sympathize and I
empathize with those who are in that situation. Someone in less than ideal
circumstances finds out they are pregnant, and they think, ‘Oh no, in an
instant, my plans are ruined, my dreams are broken.’”
Palin continued: “I’m not calloused
to that. In fact, I understand. So I want to help and encourage those who are
in that situation.”
In the months following the speech,
Palin’s words would have ample opportunity to find expression.
After giving birth to her son Trig,
it was quickly revealed that the child had been diagnosed with Down syndrome.
Palin responded with a press release, stating: “Trig is beautiful and already
adored by us. We knew through early testing he would face special challenges,
and we feel privileged that God would entrust us with this gift and allow us
unspeakable joy as he entered our lives.”
The fact that Palin gave birth,
knowing that her son had Down syndrome, resonated with many in the pro-life
community, especially since a 1999 study indicated that 90% of Down’s babies
Palin is also a member of Feminists
for Life. Serrin Foster, president of the organization, told Catholic News
Agency that her group normally doesn’t disclose its membership. Palin herself
freely spoke about it to the Anchorage Daily News in
August of 2006, the year she joined.
“One can only wonder how Susan B. Anthony
and Elizabeth Cady Stanton would feel to see this,” Foster said. “Hillary
speaking on the anniversary of the 19th Amendment, which granted women the
right to vote. And now, Sarah Palin two days later, becoming the first pro-life
feminist to be chosen as a major party’s vice presidential nominee.”
Palin Pushes Pro-Life Law
Palin’s pro-life stance would face
another challenge, however, just three days after she accepted the Republican
nomination for vice president. On Sept. 1, at the start of the Republican
National Convention, she revealed that her 17-year-old daughter Bristol was
pregnant and that the family was supporting her decision to keep the baby.
Palin’s speech, nine months before,
addressed this very issue: “Our girls and our young women [need] to see how
precious and valuable they are and be challenged to love and respect themselves
and to honor their bodies and to protect that life which we are so privileged
to help carry,” she said. “As women, we are strong enough and sacrificial
enough to do this. It is the way we are created …”
Later in the speech, Palin urged men
to shoulder their responsibilities when it comes to unplanned pregnancies.
“Men need to learn to extend their
strength to others,” she said. “They, too, must be encouraged to selflessly
become more responsible and to sacrificially own up to their responsibilities
in less than ideal circumstances …”
Towards the end of the speech, Palin
denounced a recent Alaska Supreme Court decision to strike down a state law
that required girls 16 and under to obtain parental consent before obtaining an
“What the courts intended to be a
freedom for these young girls, to make this decision without parental consent,
without parental advice or guidance, actually erected a wall between the parent
and the child, totally cutting the child off from their [parents’] wisdom and
protection,” she said.
The governor then called on the
audience to support her administration and the Alaska Legislature as they took
the necessary steps to change the court ruling.
“Those who do not see hope and
promise, they kind of give up on this,” Palin said of abortion advocates who
oppose parental notification laws. “But those of you who do see hope and
promise and believe purpose is given to our babies, let us make it our
privilege and responsibility to peaceabl[y] act [and] speak up to protect
children. Our voices must be heard, because theirs are not.”
Joel Davidson is based
in Anchorage, Alaska.