National Catholic Register


Palin Refused to Choose

BY The Editors

September 7-13, 2008 Issue | Posted 9/2/08 at 1:16 PM


If Feminists for Life’s cachet seemed to rise when President Bush appointed U.S. Chief Justice John Roberts, it has risen even higher now. Roberts’ wife, Jane Sullivan Roberts, is counsel to the organization and a former vice president of it. But Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin — Sen. John McCain’s vice-presidential pick — is herself a member of the organization.

Last week we wrote about the Democratic vice-presidential nominee, Joe Biden. This week we take a look at the woman he’ll face in the vice presidential debate.

Though she has no legislative history of abortion votes, her membership in Feminists for Life is telling.

This is not a group of ideologues who want to impose their will on an unwilling world, whether the world likes it or not. It’s a group of women who know that “Women Deserve Better Than Abortion,” to quote the tagline from their website.

They also have an unexpected offbeat message that gets to the heart of the abortion issue: “Refuse to Choose.”

By that, they mean that abortion is a false choice foisted on women. They can either keep their baby or keep their academic or career path. Feminists for Life argues that schools and employers should give them the opportunity to do both to the best of their ability.

We would add that it’s just as noble for a woman to “refuse to choose” and simply be a mother — she needs no other career to validate her — but we appreciate the case Feminists for Life makes.

We have had our disagreements with Sen. John McCain, but we think Sarah Palin’s presence on the ticket is a very encouraging sign.

First, the disagreements. Pope John Paul II taught us that military solutions should be a last resort — and himself proved that peaceful means could work, when he faced down the communists in his homeland of Poland. Pope Benedict XVI speaks from experience to point out that even the military defeat of the Nazis did not end the influence of the culture of death on his homeland. That comes from changing hearts.

In his second inaugural, President Bush agreed with them, and said he now recognizes that peace is a better friend to democracy than war is.

“It is the policy of the United States to seek and support the growth of democratic movements and institutions in every nation and culture, with the ultimate goal of ending tyranny in our world,” he said. “This is not primarily the task of arms, though we will defend ourselves and our friends by force of arms when necessary. … Our goal instead is to help others find their own voice, attain their own freedom, and make their own way.”

We thank God for the U.S. military’s strength that protects us, but we should be reluctant to turn to the military as an answer to the world’s problems; that approach nearly always backfires. But we fear McCain doesn’t share that reluctance.

And though we appreciate McCain’s pro-life voting record, we always note that he is in favor of taking taxpayers’ money and turning it over to scientists for lab tests that kill human embryos. That’s unconscionable.

Still, despite our disagreements, we are heartened by the choice of Sarah Palin for vice president. It speaks to the best aspects of his record.

In addition to her involvement with Feminists for Life, we know where she stands on the right to life from her personal life.

She was a self-described “hockey mom” of four and expecting No. 5 when Palin’s doctor warned her last December that prenatal tests indicated her new child would be born with Down syndrome.

Having such a child while running the state of Alaska presented an almost unheard-of challenge for a woman. Studies in the late 1990s showed that more than 80% of children with Down syndrome are aborted.

But true to her Feminists for Life principles, Palin “refused to choose.” She said abortion was never an option for her. Instead, she gave birth last April to her son, Trig Paxson Van Palin.

But it was her birth announcement, and press release, that gained her the most fans in the pro-life community.

She wrote to her relatives that she didn’t want anyone acting like her baby’s Down syndrome was bad news: “Many people will express sympathy, but you don’t want or need that, because Trig will be a joy,” she said. “Children are the most precious and promising ingredient in this mixed-up world. … Trig is no different, except he has one extra chromosome.”

Her press release said: “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. We have faith that every baby is created for good purpose and has potential to make this world a better place. We are truly blessed.”

Three days after the birth, the governor brought her baby to her office in Anchorage.

“It’s a sign of the times to be able to do this,” she told the Associated Press. “I can think of so many male candidates who watched families grow while they were in office. My baby will not be at all or in any sense neglected.”

It may be an impossible dream to believe that a woman can be both U.S. vice president and give proper time to raising an infant. And time will tell what disagreements we have with the policies of Sarah Palin.

But we hope her courage and pro-life witness will inspire other women to accept every life God sends.