A Nod to Sarah Palin from Someone Who Will Never Vote for Her

Governor Palin's party opposes women's access to family planning services that prevent unwanted pregnancies and that give poor women the same reproductive choices she herself enjoys.
09/29/2008 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

I disagree with every particular of Governor Palin's Christian conservative agenda. And as Michael Cohen, denizen of all speeches presidential noted, it shows very poor judgment for a 72-year-old candidate to place her a heartbeat from the presidency at this point in her career. So I will write some tough things about her before this election is done.

Before I do any of that, I want to offer a nod across the aisle, one person to another touched by the disability issue. During her pregnancy, she learned that the developing infant she carried would be born with Down Syndrome. She chose to continue her pregnancy, and is now caring for her child.

Surveys tell us that most people, given the results of amniocentesis or new, less-invasive tests, terminate their pregnancies. Many people who describe themselves politically as pro-life make this choice when they are personally confronted with the implications and possibilities of an unfavorable prenatal diagnosis. I don't in any way condemn them. It is often necessary and right to terminate a pregnancy. It is critically important that all women and all families be given this choice, and that we give far more respect than we do for the serious reasons women have for choosing to terminate a pregnancy.

Governor Palin is very wrong in her fierce desire to deny other women this choice.

Although she appears to hold moderate views on contraception, her Republican Party opposes women's access, at home and abroad, to family planning services that prevent unwanted pregnancies and that give poor women the same reproductive choices Governor Palin herself enjoys. Republican opposition to international family planning is especially contemptible given the high rates of maternal mortality in many nations in which these services are most desperately needed.

Some women will surely vote Republican because Palin is on the ticket. This would only empower a President McCain to appoint "Constitutionalist" Supreme Court justices promised in the Republican platform who would vote to erode or bluntly overturn women's reproductive rights. I encourage any politically moderate feminist to read the 2008 Republican platform on every matter related to reproductive choice.

Governor Palin is also mistaken in her support for broader Republican social policies that make it harder for millions of Americans living with physical and cognitive disabilities to get the healthcare and social services they need. If you ask people living with disabilities and their families what they need from government, many will say that they need things Democrats would provide and Republicans would not. They need adequate Medicaid funding. They really need universal health care. And they really need protections for individuals with preexisting conditions. People with Down Syndrome are often eligible for disability programs. Many others with cognitive disabilities are not. Oddly enough, people with cognitive disabilities need a strong Social Security and Medicare program that could free them from the indignities and stupidities of means-tested programs,

Then there are the schools. Many people with disabilities need special education and health services in schools. Democrats have fought for these things. Republicans typically oppose them. Less tangibly, persons with disabilities need an ethic of common provision in this country that is the antithesis of what conservatives and libertarians euphemistically call an ownership society.

All this is for another day. A tough election should not blind us to our common humanity. Anyone who walks the walk in the service of her personal beliefs deserves my friendship. So congratulations, Governor. You don't come close to earning my vote, but you are welcome in my home, any time.