Mary Mapes is right. It's time for the media to get off their duffs, and look into what Sarah Palin's problem is with investigating rape cases, and whether John McCain is comfortable with it.
Here's what we know. First, the state had to pass a law to mandate the funding of processing of "rape kits" (the forensics evidence collected in rape cases), specifically because of Wasilla, under Mayor Palin. That policy of not paying for rape kits was not in place when Palin took office -- the town paid for rape exams and rape kit processing before she was Mayor.
And now, today, in an attempt to say that the firing of former Public Safety Commissioner Walt Monegan was not due to his refusing to fire Palin's ex-brother-in-law, the McCain campaign actually tells the AP, "The last straw, the McCain campaign said, was in July, when Monegan planned to travel to Washington to seek federal money for a plan to assign troopers, judges and prosecutors who could exclusively handle sexual assault cases -- one of the state's most intractable crime problems."
The McCain campaign paints this as a process story - that Monegan was going to DC to get money to prosecute rape, when the Governor didn't OK that request. I'd say it raises a huge question. Why is it that the Governor of the state with the highest per capita rate of forcible rape, who requested hundreds of billions in earmarks, not want to fight for Federal dollars to help law enforcement in the state investigate and prosecute rape?
Back to the overall, issue, though. In her blog post, Mapes raises a point that I've heard in my own independent conversations with those involved in rape prevention in Alaska. Specifically, that Palin's opposition to paying for rape exams and processing of rape kits was that at the end of collecting evidence, hospitals routinely offered women Plan B, or a similar drug, which would prevent conception from taking place.
Unlike the so-called "abortion pill" (which I have been told was NOT offered to women by the hospital where Wasilla rape victims were examined), Plan B stops an egg from being fertilized in most cases, and in some cases prevents an ovum from attaching itself to the uterus. In this sense, providing rape victims with Plan B actually prevents abortion from even being a consideration, down the road.
Palin, I'm told from those who have been involved in the issue for years in Alaska, had a more extreme view than those Catholic Churches: That Plan B was abortion, and she would not have the city of Wasilla pay for rape exams, as long as hospitals offered the pill to rape victims. This notion is seconded (or thirded? or fourthed?) in a post by Shannyn Moore, a radio host in the state, who has been involved with anti-rape groups for years.
All of this, of course, just makes one's skin crawl. But, outside of that, it raises some very serious questions about what John McCain's VP pick believes, and her willingness to legislate those private beliefs. Even more importantly, it raises questions about what John McCain believes.
First, does John McCain believe that there would be any reason for government to not fund rape exams, or process evidence? In other words, does he think there is any reasoning that would make Palin's Wasilla policy on rape cases acceptable?
Second, do Palin and John McCain believe that life begins before conception? If they do, why should those beliefs affect policy? Also, would they defund any government programs that provide women with "the pill," or men with condoms, which also prevent conception?
Third, did McCain discuss the issue of rape exams with Sarah Palin, and her record on this issue? What did he find out during those discussions? Why did it not concern him when he talked to her about it?
All questions I have a hunch about, but it'll take some real reporters to ask tough questions to resolve.