Monday, April 20, 2009

She Had a Choice

Ruth Marcus says that Sarah Palin made the case for being pro-choice.

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.

That was not, of course, Palin’s intention in revealing that she momentarily considered having an abortion. Twice, actually — once when she discovered she would be a mother at 44, again several weeks later when she discovered that her baby would have Down syndrome.


[Ms. Palin said,] “So we went through some things a year ago that now lets me understand a woman’s, a girl’s temptation to maybe try to make it all go away if she has been influenced by society to believe that she’s not strong enough or smart enough or equipped enough or convenienced enough to make the choice to let the child live. I do understand what these women, what these girls go through in that thought process.”

Except that, of course, if it were up to Palin, women would have no thought process to go through. The “good decision to choose life,” as she put it, would be no decision at all, because abortion would not be an option.

This seems to be a point that escapes the people who are anti-abortion: the pro-choice movement is precisely that. There’s also the assumption that women, given the choice, would automatically choose to have an abortion. That’s blisteringly cynical and misogynistic; a lot of women who are pro-choice do “choose life.” In addition, the anti-choice idea that absolute strangers, in the form of the state, have the right to dictate the most private of all decisions — flies in the face of the “smaller government” mentality that is supposed to be the hallmark of conservatism.

I’m sympathetic to Ms. Palin, the struggle she went through and the challenges she will face raising a family that includes a special-needs child. But how I feel about her choice — there’s that word again — is irrelevant. It was up to her, and she is the one who will get to live with that choice.