What Does “Feminists for Life” Tell Us About Palin?

Marcy Bloom

Sarah Palin is a proud member of Feminists for Life, so what does that mean to the feminists who've been fighting for women's rights since before being feminist was cool?

What a public
relations boon for any organization. The
Feminists for Life home page currently reads: “FFL
Member nominated for Vice President of the United States…According
to the Anchorage Daily News published August 6, 2006, ‘Palin said
last month that no woman should have to choose between her career, education,
and her child…she’s a member [since 2006] of a pro-woman but anti-abortion
group called Feminists for Life…[Palin stated]
I believe in the
strength and power of women, and the potential of every
human life.’ ”

 

What does this affiliation
say about Palin? What is Feminists for Life? FFL’s slogan is “Refuse
to Choose: Women Deserve Better than Abortion. “ Co-opting genuine
woman-focused language and values, and wrapping it in a false blanket
of “woman-centered solutions” and alleged loving concern for women,
FFL cleverly uses a “pro-woman, pro-life philosophy” and completely
manipulates the feminist terminology of empowerment. Their web site
speaks out on numerous issues of concern to women, such as violence
against women, honor killings, coercive sterilization, literacy, child
care, sex trafficking, and female genital mutilation. They support deceptive
anti-choice crisis pregnancy centers as real solutions for women, with
the centerpiece of their work being that
abortion is
exploitive, coercive, and always wrong and
harmful, for any and all women everywhere,
in every circumstance
.

In 2002, while running for the office of lieutenant governor in Alaska,
Palin wrote to the Alaska Right to Life Board and stated that
she was as “pro-life as any candidate can be” and has “adamantly
supported our cause since I first understood, as a child, the atrocity
of abortion.”
She does not view
rape and incest to be valid exceptions to her stance; the only exception
that she supports is if the life of the woman is in danger
. How very noble of the governor to
care about women so deeply.

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Of course, she shares John McCain’s commitment
to overturning Roe vs. Wade (although she has never flip-flopped on
the issue, as he has) and she is a dangerous ideologue. She is also
against gay marriage.

When discussing a ballot measure that would deny
benefits to gay couples, she stated:” I
believe that honoring
the family structure is that important
,”
obviously oblivious to the fact that her definition of family is incredibly
narrow and that the diversity of all types of families should be celebrated.
She is a self-described
hockey mom
, mother
of five, is in favor of capital punishment, does not believe that global
warming is human-made, is a long-time member of the National Rifle Association,
and supports the teaching of both creationism and evolution in public
schools. As would be expected, Sarah Palin also opposes medically accurate
sexuality education programs and stated in 2006 that “she would fund
[only] ‘abstinence-until-marriage’ education” (Juneau Empire,
9/20/06).

This
belief now presumably has had an enormous impact on Palin’s family
per an announcement on Labor Day that her17 year-old daughter Bristol
is five months pregnant, will keep the child, and marry the father.
The Palins further stated: “Bristol
and the young man she will marry are going to realize very quickly the
difficulties of raising a child, which is why they will have the love
and support of our entire family. We ask the media [to] respect our
daughter and Levi’s privacy, as has always been the tradition of children
of candidates.”

I could not agree more that
these are extraordinarily private and personal family issues that should
not destroy the life and future of Bristol or her fiancé. This family
needs to be left alone as they work through the impact of Bristol’s
pregnancy and how this will change her life. How good—and right—
it is that Bristol has the support and love of her family and that Bristol
made the decision on her own to keep her baby, as did her 44 year-old-mom
with all five of her children. No one should judge this family, Bristol’s
sexual activity, or pregnancy, as this is what true choice is all about.
Parenting is one of the most challenging jobs in the world, and motherhood
is an aspect of Palin’s resumé that prepares her for leadership (although
not to be the vice-presidential nominee). I cannot help but wonder that
if Bristol and her boyfriend had been exposed to a different type of
discussion around sexual activity—medically accurate sexuality
education—could this pregnancy have been avoided?

Bristol has made her choice—
and all choices regarding unintended pregnancy need to be respected,
honored, and supported, whatever they are. Women are moral and ethical
decision-makers and they know when then are ready—or not— to bring
a new life into this world. But that is not the stance of Sarah Palin.
As a staunch religious conservative specifically selected to mobilize
the religious right and close the gender gap—John McCain is trailing
Barack Obama by 12 points among women, according to Emily’s List—
Sarah Palin is completely out of touch with the realities of the lives
of women and families. As quoted in the August 31st Women’s
E-News, Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood of America,
declared: “The last thing women need is a president—and a vice-president—who
are prepared to turn back the clock and repeal the protections of Roe
vs. Wade.” Yes, that is a frightening and chilling thought.

“Can You Cross Out ‘Hillary”
and Write in ‘Sarah’?” queries Kate Zernike in Sunday’s New
York Times
. For me, the answer is clear and transparent. NO. We undeniably
need to keep fighting racism, sexism, homophobia, and a vast array of
inequalities in the US. We absolutely need more diversity and far many
more smart, perceptive, and well-informed women in leadership roles
for the good of the country and the world. But not this anti-choice,
pro-gun, and inexperienced woman governor.

To the Republicans I say—do
not ever pander to me and don’t you dare insult my intelligence. Do
not give us a candidate who opposes everything that enhances the lives,
health, and opportunities for women and children. But you that is what
you just did and shame on you.

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