No Surprise, Abortion Advocates Misread Pro-Life Gov. Sarah Palin’s Speech

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Apr 20, 2009   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

No Surprise, Abortion Advocates Misread Pro-Life Gov. Sarah Palin’s Speech

by Dave Andrusko
April 20, 2009 Note: Dave Andrusko is the editor of National Right to Life News and an author and editor of several books on abortion topics. He writes Today’s News and Views — an online editorial column on pro-life issues.

In pro-life Gov. Sarah Palin’s candid and honest and genuine speech delivered at Vanderburgh County Right to Life’s annual fundraising dinner held last Thursday in Evansville, Indiana, Palin spoke frankly of what went through her heart and mind in a "fleeting moment" when she learned she was pregnant at 44.

Palin was already the mother of four children, the governor of the state of Alaska, the wife of a husband whose own job required him to be hundreds of miles away, and her oldest son was about to be deployed to Iraq. In addition, her 17-year-year old daughter would soon confide that she was pregnant.
Speaking to 4,500 pro-lifers who were in the banquet hall or watching her speak via a live feed, Palin explained that she had first learned she was pregnant when she was away from home at a conference.

"While out of state, there just for a fleeting moment, wow, I knew, nobody knows me here, nobody would ever know," Palin told her audience. "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."

"Then when my amniocentesis results came back, showing what they called abnormalities [Trig, now one-year-old, has Down syndrome], oh, dear God, I knew, I had instantly an understanding for that fleeting moment why someone would believe it could seem possible to change those circumstances. Just make it all go away and get some normalcy back in life. Just take care of it. Because at the time only my doctor knew the results, Todd didn’t even know. No one would know."

Palin said, "It was a serious time of testing" where "I had to ask myself, ‘Was I going to walk the walk, or was I just going to talk the talk?’"

What does someone make of this–that, however briefly, Palin contemplated an abortion?

If you are pro-abortion and tone-deaf (one and the same), you might pretend to admire her for telling this in front of "such a judgmental group" (as columnist Bonnie Erbe wrote last week).

Or, if you are the Washington Post’s Ruth Marcus, you can write this morning that you "respect" Palin’s decision.

"She speaks as someone who is confident that she made the correct choice. For her," Marcus hastily adds. "In fact, the overwhelming majority of couples choose to terminate pregnancies when prenatal testing shows severe abnormalities."

And she is right: 90% of women who learn their baby will have Down syndrome abort the child. Strike one against Palin: she swims against the tide of opinion.

Strike two is that "Palin’s disclosure served the comfortable role of moral reinforcement," Marcus continues. "She wavered in her faith, was tempted to sin, regained her strength and emerged better for it."

A strange argument that we’ll come back to in a second.

Palin’s third strike is reflected in the statement Sarah and Todd Palin issued last summer regarding their daughter’s pregnancy: "We’re proud of Bristol’s decision to have her baby." Palin "seems deliberately obtuse" to the "not particular[ly] complex point," Marcus writes. Which is that "in the world according to Palin, there would be no decision at all. Abortion would be illegal except to save the life of the mother."

At the end of the day Marcus and Erbe and others concluded that Palin did them a favor. Why? Because having even a moment’s doubt proves, according to Marcus, that "Abortion is a personal issue and a personal choice."

So, what do pro-lifers say? What people who have no commitment either way might say, if they knew the full story.

To begin with where would any of us be if it were a sign of hypocrisy (or a weak argument) that we were tempted to make a huge mistake but rose above it? Most of mankind knows that when you successfully pass through fiery temptations you can come out not only stronger but also far more likely to empathize with someone who is facing the same trials.

If you actually listened to Palin’s speech, rather than trolling for pro-abortion talking points, you’d understand how her experience made Palin even more sensitive to what women and girls go through in a crisis pregnancy. Pro-lifers, like Palin, know more firmly than ever that choosing life is the right decision.

Second, what does it say about us as a culture that willy nilly we are engaged in a campaign to exterminate an entire class of people? Would Ruth Marcus be playing the "majority opinion prevails" card if the class under assault were homosexuals, blacks, Jews, or middle-age pro-abortion feminists? Is ethnic cleansing horrific but cleansing the gene pool of babies with Down syndrome to be celebrated as "choice"?

Third, I find Marcus’ characterization of Palin’s "discourse" as having "served the comfortable role of moral reinforcement most curious, although predictable. Palin "wavered in her faith, was tempted to sin, regained her strength and emerged better for it." Really, is that why Palin brought down the house?

When we egregiously fail, whether we call it sin or something else, we miss the mark in two ways. We fail ourselves by not living up to our own expectations and standards; and we fail others who are hurt (in the case of abortion, lethally so) by our behavior.

Marcus is saying that because Palin did not have an abortion, the audience sees her as a proxy for themselves. She lived up to what Marcus called Palin’s "moral certainties." Since she is a public pro-life figure, by extension so, too, did the audience. The implication is that the audience was smugly self-satisfied, but had Palin failed, they would have thrown her under the bus.

This is spectacularly wrong on numerous counts. Let me mention only two. First, it misses altogether that because Palin passed through a "serious time of testing," a real-live baby is with us today. The "other"–in this case Trig–not only was not hurt, he became (in Palin’s words) "the best thing that has ever happened to me."

Second, our Movement would be, comparatively speaking, a rivulet if it consisted only of women and men who had never walked through the shadow of the valley of death. But the Right to Life Movement is an ocean because it is filled with mere mortals, many of whom failed that test and who are determined to help other women and girls not make the same mistake.

If you think about it, the response of Marcus and her ilk represent the ultimate pro-abortion default position. No one can ever attempt to reign in the carnage, let alone return legal protection to unborn baby, until each and every pro-life person not only lives a life of perfection but is immune to the temptations that are common to all of us.

Can you think of any reform movement in the history of mankind that meets that criteria? Can you think of any individuals? Of course not.

Gov. Palin knew that the reliably pro-abortion CNN was there along with other news outlets. She knew that the usual suspects would turn her comments inside out to draw their own conclusion.

We know better because most of us have been there.
See the speech at

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