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US/ Sarah Palin’s Choice

April Mon 27, 2009

palin_todd_R375.jpg (Foto)

At a pro-life gathering in Indiana recently, Sarah Palin offered some candid comments about receiving the news of her son's Down's syndrome condition from amniocentesis results. She admitted to her fears and a brief temptation to escape the situation. "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. But I would know. First, I thought how in the world could we manage a change of this magnitude. I was a very busy governor with four busy kids and a husband with a job hundreds of miles away up on the North Slope oil fields. And, oh, the criticism that I knew was coming. Plus, I was old . . ."


Abortion advocates pounced on the revelation, co-opting her story as an argument in favor of freedom of choice. Ruth Marcus in The Washington Post wrote: "I'd like to thank Sarah Palin for her bravery in explaining the importance of a woman's right to choose. Even braver, the Alaska governor made her eloquent case for choice at a right-to-life fundraising dinner." Elizabeth Shipp, political director of NARAL Pro-Choice America stated, "If I didn't know any better, I'd say Governor Palin sounds remarkably pro-choice." The argument that the temptation justifies the choice falls apart as soon as another example is substituted.


Even pro-choice Christopher Orr found Marcus' argument weak: "The fact of the matter is that even in Palin's ideal pro-life world, many women would still have to make the difficult choice of whether or not to have an illegal abortion... The fact that Sarah Palin disagrees doesn't mean she would banish moral decision making from the world, but rather that she would have the law place a heavy finger on the scale."


At the decisive moment, Palin turned to what was most important to her: "I had to ask myself, 'Was I going to walk the walk or was I just going to talk the talk.'" She prayed during the pregnancy for understanding and shared that, "The moment he was born, I knew that moment my prayers had been answered.... Trig is a miracle, and he has brought amazing and surprising happiness and great perspective."


Even while her comments were churned by ideologues and she was accused of hypocrisy for revealing a too human struggle of conscience, her experience of welcoming her disabled child has had a positive effect not only on her own family, but on other families facing the same difficulty, where the abortion rate for such a diagnosis is over 90%.


The publicity surrounding Trig Palin has had a direct effect on making more resources available to such parents. Last September, Sen. Ted Kennedy (D) and Sen. Sam Brownback (R) came together to sponsor a bill to assist women who receive a prenatal diagnosis of disability with information and resources. The bill was passed unanimously in late September after languishing for two years, directly helped by Sarah Palin's story. Senator Kennedy, although pro-choice, has been a long-time advocate of people with disabilities. Senator Brownback, pro-life, found a way to help women have and care for their afflicted children. A data registry is being established to point to disability resources and adoption services.


The bill was the result of a study by one Harvard Medical Student Brian Skotko who showed that doctors negatively influenced the mothers' decisions. "The majority of the parents said that the information they got from their physicians was inaccurate, incomplete and sometimes insensitive," Skotko said. "It was in no way consistent with the advancements and possibilities and support that we've seen."

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