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Palin Dodges Draconian GOP Abortion Platform - Again - in Couric Interview

October 1, 2008

Lost in the myriad accounts of Sarah Palin's jaw-dropping gaffes and mind-numbing misstatements in her interview with Katie Couric is Palin's all-too-familiar ploy when it comes to abortion. As in her chat with ABC's Charles Gibson, Palin passed off as merely a "personal" opinion her past calls for banning abortion even in cases of rape and incest. And it's not just Sarah Palin who wants to make that extremist view the law of the land; it's the stated platform of the Republican Party.
To be sure, John McCain now supports overturning Roe v. Wade, a reversal of his stance heading into his failed 2000 White House bid. But his party's platform adopted at the convention in St. Paul goes much further, calling for a constitutional amendment banning all abortions in the United States, including cases involving rape, incest and protecting the life of the mother. The GOP platform is quite clear on the point:

"We support a human life amendment to the Constitution, and we endorse legislation to make clear that the Fourteenth Amendment's protections apply to unborn children."

But speaking with Couric on CBS Monday, Palin resorted to the dodge of speaking "personally" on the topic of reproductive rights, rather than own up to the draconian prohibitions she and her Republican Party would inflict on American women:

COURIC: If a 15-year-old is raped by her father, do you believe it should be illegal for her to get an abortion, and why?
PALIN: I am pro-life. And I'm unapologetic in my position that I am pro-life. And I understand there are good people on both sides of the abortion debate. In fact, good people in my own family have differing views on abortion, and when it should be allowed. Do I respect people's opinions on this? Now, I would counsel to choose life. I would also like to see a culture of life in this country. But I would also like to take it one step further. Not just saying I am pro-life and I want fewer and fewer abortions in this country, but I want them, those women who find themselves in circumstances that are absolutely less than ideal, for them to be supported, and adoptions made easier.
COURIC: But ideally, you think it should be illegal for a girl who was raped or the victim of incest to get an abortion?
PALIN: I'm saying that, personally, I would counsel the person to choose life, despite horrific, horrific circumstances that this person would find themselves in. And, um, if you're asking, though, kind of foundationally here, should anyone end up in jail for having an...abortion, absolutely not. That's nothing I would ever support.

Palin used the same misdirection during her appearance with Charles Gibson on ABC earlier in September:

GIBSON: Roe v. Wade, do you think it should be reversed?
PALIN: I think it should and I think that states should be able to decide that issue... I am pro-life. I do respect other people's opinion on this, also, and I think that a culture of life is best for America... What I want to do, when elected vice president, with John McCain, hopefully, be able to reach out and work with those who are on the other side of this issue, because I know that we can all agree on the need for and the desire for fewer abortions in America and greater support for adoption, for other alternatives that women can and should be empowered to embrace, to allow that culture of life. That's my personal opinion on this, Charlie.
GIBSON: John McCain would allow abortion in cases of rape and incest. Do you believe in it only in the case where the life of the mother is in danger?
PALIN: That is my personal opinion.
GIBSON: Would you change and accept it in rape and incest?
PALIN: My personal opinion is that abortion allowed if the life of the mother is endangered. Please understand me on this. I do understand McCain's position on this. I do understand others who are very passionate about this issue who have a differing.

Palin, of course, is correct in saying that she and John McCain have a difference of opinion on the rape and incest exemptions. While McCain reiterated for the Washington Post last month that "my position has always been: exceptions of rape, incest and the life of the mother," then gubernatorial candidate Palin said in 2006 "I would choose life" even in a scenario involving the rape of her daughter.
But it is Palin's view, and not McCain's, which is reflected in the official platform of the Republican Party. As I documented previously, McCain caved to the social conservatives in his party on the GOP abortion plank. But he not only abdicated any role in influencing the platform committee; he reversed course on his 2000 pledge to keep the hard line abortion restrictions out of the Republican platform.
If John McCain and Sarah Palin are elected, women's reproductive rights in the United States will be dramatically curtailed for at least a generation. The insistence by the GOP and its ticket that victims of rape and incest carry pregnancies to term will become the law of the land.
And Sarah Palin's duplicitous evasions notwithstanding, there's nothing personal about it.
UPDATE: In the latest installment of Palin's ongoing embarrassment on CBS, the Alaska governor could not tell Katie Couric about any Supreme Court decision she disagreed with other than Roe v. Wade.

One comment on “Palin Dodges Draconian GOP Abortion Platform - Again - in Couric Interview”

  1. This is a really important analysis. McCain and Palin are trying to dupe moderates (especially moderate women) by running away from their real plans on abortion.


Jon Perr
Jon Perr is a technology marketing consultant and product strategist who writes about American politics and public policy.

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