Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Palin needs to stop answering "personally"

I don't have a tally of how many times Sarah Palin has framed her answers in media interviews in terms of her personal beliefs, but she's done it one time too many.

Palin is entitled to her own personal beliefs. I wouldn't be concerned about her religion or morality if it weren't for the fact that she could be in a position to shape national policy that affects all of us. Such a simple, essential idea, but one that Palin fails to project in her responses. Case in point, her answer to Katie Couric about what she thought about a 15-year-old incest victim getting an abortion (via Salon's War Room blog):
Then, when questioned on social issues, Palin avoided giving straight answers. Here's the conversation about whether Palin opposes abortion even in a case of rape or incest:

COURIC: If a 15-year-old is raped by her father, you believe it should be illegal for her to get an abortion. Why?

PALIN: I am pro-life and I'm unapologetic about my position there on pro-life, and I understand good people on both sides of the abortion debate.

Now, I would counsel to choose life. I would like to see a culture of life in this country. But I would also like to see, taking it one step further, not just saying I am pro-life and I want fewer and fewer abortions in this country. But I want, then, those women who find themselves in circumstances that are absolutely less than ideal for them to be supported, for adoptions to be made easier.

COURIC: But ideally, you think it should be illegal for a girl who is raped or the victim of incest to get an abortion?

PALIN: I'm saying that personally I would counsel that person to choose life despite horrific, horrific circumstances that this person would find themselves in. And if you're asking, though, kind of foundationally here, should anybody end up in jail for having had an abortion? Absolutely not. That's -- that's nothing that I would ever support.

Notice that she doesn't really answer the question about illegality, and keeps falling back on her personal viewpoint. It is possible to be personally opposed to abortion for oneself, or even opposed to the concept in general, while realizing that there are sound legal and moral reasons to refrain from forcing one's own beliefs on other women.

Alternet had a very interesting discussion, "Can You Be a Feminist and Anti-Abortion?" looking at Jennifer Baumgardner's new book, Abortion & Life.

In this election year it's important for all of us to spend time thinking about how we think about and value reproductive rights and self-determination in many forms, including sex ed and access to birth control (currently under fire from the Bush administration). As voters we need to consider what kind of leaders we want for all citizens and what rights those leaders should protect as a matter of public policy and social justice.

As a starting point, I would suggest the SisterSong Women of Color Reproductive Health Collective's paper, "Understanding Reproductive Justice," as required reading. It would challenge Governor Palin to start thinking about reproductive issues systemically, politically, and legally, and not just personally. If she is going to advocate denying reproductive rights then she should own that policy and real-world consequences and not just that belief. The fact that she is not even at that basic starting point yet is one more reason that she is not fit to become second in line for the Presidency.

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Blogger Daisy said...

The problem with her sticking to her "personal" opinion is that many, many women do not enjoy the privileged life that Palin does. Steady, secure income; health insurance; supportive family -- she needs to walk a mile in someone else's shoes until her peep toes are sore.

5:06 PM  
Blogger MojoMom said...

Daisy, absolutely, I am right there with you. My experience writing as Mojo Mom has really sensitized me to the need for systemic change, no matter what our individual situations may be. I would love for more privileged women to open their eyes to see what is going on. In many cases, motherhood is that wake up call, suddenly understanding how catastrophic it is to lose a job or health insurance. But Palin seems asleep to those issues and the fact that life might look really different from another person's perspective. But as I have said before, the Republican worldview worships the "rugged American individualism" that stops working for many of us once we have kids, if not before!

5:12 PM  
Blogger Michael Tiemann said...

Hey Amy! You are one step ahead of John Stewart:

It is staggering that the mainstream media does not make a bigger deal of the fact that Palin seems to believe that following the law is a personal choice (as if the proceedings against her in Alaska don't make that obvious). Maybe she's more like Dick Cheney than we all thought!

12:14 PM  

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