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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Palin’s Abortion Dodge

After writing my last post about Sarah Palin’s odd lack of knowledge about Supreme Court decisions that are considered critically important by anti-abortion activists, I ran across a fascinating analysis by Beliefnet editor Steve Waldman of the segments of the Katie Couric interview that are directly about abortion policy.
I won’t reduplicate the whole thing here, but basically, Couric keeps trying to get Palin to clarify whether her hard-core pro-life position means she actually wants to make nearly all abortions illegal, and Palin keeps retreating into vague language about the “culture of life” and abortion as a “choice.” She finally does say she wouldn’t want to jail women who have abortions, though that’s not really relevant, since the Right to Life movement’s strategy for eliminating abortions has always relied on making them unavailable by cracking down on providers. Palin also at one point suggests that overturning Roe would simply return the issue to the states, which is true, but doesn’t deal with (a) the question of whether, as a governor, she’d support a state prohibition, or (b) the language of the Republican platform, which endorses a federal constitutional amendment to ban abortions, or (c) the fact that Congress could, if Roe is overturned, preempt state laws with a federal statutory abortion ban, much as it’s already done on so-called “partial-birth abortions.”
There’s nothing new about tactical duplicity among anti-abortionist extremists, who’ve always tried to act as though they are motivated only by shock over late-term abortions, even though they support policies that would restrict or ban the vast majority of abortions that occur very early in pregnancy. But Palin’s language in this interview is so incredibly evasive (as pointed out repeatedly by Waldman) that you might be left with the impression that her pro-life self-identification is just some sort of personal preference that has no impact on what she thinks the law should say on this subject. Indeed, what she really sounds like is one of those “personally opposed to” pro-choice Catholic politicians that anti-abortionists have so thoroughly excoriated over the years.
Best I can tell, right-to-lifers are confident enough that Palin’s “one of us” that they’ll let her get away with this sort of talk, as a way to reassure swing voters and help get her into office. But for such a brave maverick, she sure doesn’t seem to have the courage of her convictions.

4 comments on “Palin’s Abortion Dodge

  1. Heidi on

    In Palins interview by Katie Couric, Palin is asked “If a 15-year old is raped by her father, you believe it should be illegal for her to get an abortion..why?” and Palin’s response is somewhat unclear. She says she wants to see fewer and fewer abortion procedures take place…however she does not say she wants to completely illegalize them. If she can’t make up her mind, how are we voters supposed to make up ours? She rambles about “personally” counseling women who want abortions to choose life instead…so is this still giving women the option to choose? Palin’s stance on abortion is confusing and unprofessional.
    She also makes sure to say there are “good people on both sides” of the abortion debate. Now c’mon, She is just being a people-pleaser! There is no point in saying that! I am starting to believe Palin is just trying to get EVERYONE to like her, instead of stating her honest opinions and risk losing support from pro-choice voters.

  2. ThinkingGuy on

    Does anyone else here think it is possible that she is only pretending to be this bad, only to spring into a brilliant performance at the debate, and surprise the media?

  3. Mylegacy on

    The woman who asked that we “respect” her daughters “decision” to carry her baby to term would deny your daughter the “choice.”
    Ms Palin would reduce your daughter’s opportunity to “choose” a Doctor and replace it with “choosing” a coat hanger.
    She is not a “choice” America needs or wants.

  4. sporcupine on

    Yes, Palin could be ready to apply criminal penalties to all abortions, but trying not to alienate pro-choice voters.
    To me, it makes more sense to thinks she’s not ready to do anything of the sort, and what she’s dodging is saying what would disturb anti-abortion voters.
    That fits what she’s done as Governor, and it fits Alaskan independent thinking, and it fits believing she can say she’s unchurched without cost.


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