VIDEO: Couric Asks Palin About Abortion, Contraception

Scott Swenson

Trying to appear more mainstream on abortion is common during elections. But governing is about the Justices that get appointed to overturn Roe, and efforts to make contraception more difficult to obtain, as the Bush Administration is trying to do. Updated with the full CBS transcript including portions not broadcast (yet?)

In the latest installment of Katie Couric’s interviews with Gov. Sarah Palin, Palin says she is "unapologetically pro-life", would "counsel life" for a 15 year old girl raped by her father, but does not want to see "anybody put in jail" for getting an abortion. She also said she is for contraception and any other legal prevention method, though she would not personally choose to use the morning after pill. Unasked was what she thinks about the Bush Administration efforts to make contraception less accessible, or the views of many social conservatives who believe contraception should be illegal.

It is the governing philosophy and policies, not the personal beliefs, that matter.

She would “counsel” life but doesn’t want to see anyone in jail, thus one assumes the right to a safe, legal abortion would remain on the books in her world view. When you make something illegal, you make it a crime requiring some form of punishment. Palin’s views appear to run counter to the stated McCain position of appointing Supreme Court Justices to over turn Roe, and the GOP platform advocates a constitutional amendment to ban all abortions.

Overturning Roe also opens the door to Congress passing a law to ban all abortions, and would immediately ban them in 23 states. She also dropped the favored anti-choice talking point about encouraging adoption, which we all support, if only it was a real solution. The fact is that the adoption talking point, is a myth, and unfortunately one the mainstream media never pushes back on.

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Her position on contraception runs counter to many of her supporters who believe it is the same thing as abortion, and in fact the Bush Administration is attempting to give individual medical professionals the right to determine that based on ideology, not medical science, right now. Would Palin oppose these efforts by the Bush Administration?

VIDEO: Does Life Begin at Fertilization?VIDEO: Does Life Begin at Fertilization?

While she said she would not choose the morning after pill personally, she did not indicate that it should not be on the market, something the Bush Administration fought and the anti-choice movement thinks is, like all contraception, the same thing as abortion.

She may be unapologetically pro-life personally, and everyone will respect her for her choices, but in this interview she sure sounds like she’s pro-choice even though the policies she supports don’t always respect the personal choices of others. That may be by design.

The anti-choice movement will not care what she says, so in love with Sarah are they, and good for them having a shero to cheer. But more importantly, they will let her say and do anything necessary to try to secure victory, because all they care about is John McCain’s promise to appoint two or three US Supreme Court Justices to overturn Roe v. Wade.  Trying to downplay extreme opposition to abortion, even in the cases of rape and incest, is nothing new for anti-choice stealth candidates who try to appeal to moderates just until election day, knowing they will turn hard right once in office.

Right now the McCain campaign needs to hold on to women and Catholics who might warm to her.  Making Palin seem less extreme on social issues is a play for the margins in battleground states like Pennsylvania, but the reality is that we know based on the Bush Administration how anti-choice ideologues govern.  They try to reduce access to contraception, support abstinence-only, and appoint judges that will make abortion a crime requiring punishment, so women and the doctors who help them will be criminals.

Being personally pro-life is a choice the pro-choice community celebrates, and all we have ever asked is that women who are personally pro-choice be respected for the decisions they make too. Sarah Palin may be capable of that personally, but the policies she represents politically, are not.

Below is the CBS Evening News segment in its entirety. The conversation as aired begins at 5:30. The full transcript, including portions not broadcast (yet) appears below.


 

Couric: Let me get your take, if I could Gov. Palin, on a number of social issues. Because that’s, they’ve gotten some attention, your position. If a 15-year-old is raped by her father,you believe it should be illegal for her to get an abortion. Why?

Palin: I am pro-life. And I’m unapologetic about my position there on pro-life. And I understand 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. So … I respect people’s opinion on this.

Now, I would counsel to choose life. I would like to see a culture of life in this country. But I would also like to see taking it one step further. Not just saying I am pro-life, and I want fewer and fewer abortions in this country. But I want, then, those women who find themselves in circumstances that are absolutely less than ideal, for them to be supported for adoptions to be made easier. For more support given to foster parents and adoptive families. That is my personal opinion on this.

Couric: But, ideally, you think it should be illegal …

Palin: If you …

Couric: …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.

Then, now, some may characterize my position as being extreme, because I am pro-life … and I want women empowered to know that, you know, we can help them. They can be strong enough, and they can have the resources provided them to give that child life.

The extremism, to me, is those who would support partial-birth abortion. Those who would disallow parental consent when it comes to a minor child who would seek an abortion. I think parents should have a say in that. They should be a part of their child’s health care there. And those who, like Barack Obama, would support measures that would actually allow in a botched abortion, late-term abortion, that child being born alive, to allow it to not receive medical help to save that child’s life. That’s extremism to me. That is so far on the left side of the political spectrum and public sentiment in this country. That’s the extremism to me.

Couric: So you want more support so women have more options, or girls have more options. But you also think it should be illegal, that there should be no punishment if a woman does break the law…

Palin: I would like to see more women given more support so that those of us who say, “You know, a culture of life is what we believe.” Is best … for human kind, you know, to respect the sanctity of every human life. And to understand … that we live in a pretty messed up world sometimes.

When you consider what’s going on in this world. The most promising and good ingredients in this world … is a child. The hope that a child brings. And just understanding that. Being near and dear to my heart. I want to do all that I can to reduce the number abortions.

And to usher in that culture of life. And in my respect for the other side of this issue, I have not spoken with one woman who do, may disagree with me on, when abortions could or should be allowed, not one woman has disagreed, as we sit down and rationally talk about … the common goal we have, and that is to see fewer and fewer abortions. And to provide more and more women support in this world.

Couric: Some people have credited the morning-after pill as for decreasing the number of abortions. How do you feel about the morning after pill?

Palin: Well …I’m all for contraception. And I’m all for any preventative measures that are legal and safe and should be taken. But, Katie, again and we can go round and round about the abortion issue, but I am one to seek a culture of life. I am one to believe that life starts at the moment of conception. And I would like to see …

Couric: And so you don’t believe in the morning-after pill.

Palin: I would like to see fewer and fewer abortions in this world. And, again, I haven’t spoken with anyone who disagrees with my position on that.

Couric: I’m sorry. I just want to ask you again. Do you not support or do you condone or condemn the morning after pill?

Palin: Personally, and this is isn’t McCain-Palin policy …

Couric: That’s OK. I’m just asking you.

Palin: But, personally, I would not choose to participate in that kind of contraception. It …

Couric: Do you think it should be illegal?

Palin: I don’t think that it should necessarily be illegal. But we can go, again, round and round. And what the foundation I believe of this debate, of this discussion, even of your questions, is do you believe in the sanctity of life? Are you are you gonna side on the pro-life position or not when decisions are in front of you and you have to make them? Now, as a vice president, what positions would a vice-president have to take on the abortion issue? They’re not legislating. A vice president does not make law.

Couric: But if you have a moral problem with abortion, it seems to me you would do everything in your power to make it illegal and overturn Roe v. Wade and …

Palin: Of course, it’s the legislature, the law-making branch of our third, of our three branches of government …

Couric: But they …

Palin: …makes the laws.

Couric: …your vision or the administration’s vision.

Palin: Well, let’s be practical about it and let’s be realistic about a vice-president’s role in this debate. I can personally share my views, which I don’t apologize when I share my views of being pro-life. And, you know, I’ll do that all day long if you want me to. But a vice-president does not make law. And a vice-president does not interpret the law either.

Couric: So you’re saying this won’t be a top issue for you if you’re elected?

Palin: I will do all that I can personally to encourage that culture of life, to remind women that I believe with more empowerment, they – more and more women will realize that they are strong enough … and they are able to carry a child and still continue a career, still continue education opportunities, all with the goal being fewer and fewer abortions in this world.

News Politics

Clinton Campaign Announces Tim Kaine as Pick for Vice President

Ally Boguhn

The prospect of Kaine’s selection has been criticized by some progressives due to his stances on issues including abortion as well as bank and trade regulation.

The Clinton campaign announced Friday that Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA) has been selected to join Hillary Clinton’s ticket as her vice presidential candidate.

“I’m thrilled to announce my running mate, @TimKaine, a man who’s devoted his life to fighting for others,” said Clinton in a tweet.

“.@TimKaine is a relentless optimist who believes no problem is unsolvable if you put in the work to solve it,” she added.

The prospect of Kaine’s selection has been criticized by some progressives due to his stances on issues including abortion as well as bank and trade regulation.

Kaine signed two letters this week calling for the regulations on banks to be eased, according to a Wednesday report published by the Huffington Post, thereby ”setting himself up as a figure willing to do battle with the progressive wing of the party.”

Charles Chamberlain, executive director of the progressive political action committee Democracy for America, told the New York Times that Kaine’s selection “could be disastrous for our efforts to defeat Donald Trump in the fall” given the senator’s apparent support of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). Just before Clinton’s campaign made the official announcement that Kaine had been selected, the senator praised the TPP during an interview with the Intercept, though he signaled he had ultimately not decided how he would vote on the matter.

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Kaine’s record on reproductive rights has also generated controversy as news began to circulate that he was being considered to join Clinton’s ticket. Though Kaine recently argued in favor of providing Planned Parenthood with access to funding to fight the Zika virus and signed on as a co-sponsor of the Women’s Health Protection Act—which would prohibit states and the federal government from enacting restrictions on abortion that aren’t applied to comparable medical services—he has also been vocal about his personal opposition to abortion.

In a June interview on NBC’s Meet the Press, Kaine told host Chuck Todd he was “personally” opposed to abortion. He went on, however, to affirm that he still believed “not just as a matter of politics, but even as a matter of morality, that matters about reproduction and intimacy and relationships and contraception are in the personal realm. They’re moral decisions for individuals to make for themselves. And the last thing we need is government intruding into those personal decisions.”

As Rewire has previously reported, though Kaine may have a 100 percent rating for his time in the Senate from Planned Parenthood Action Fund, the campaign website for his 2005 run for governor of Virginia promised he would “work in good faith to reduce abortions” by enforcing Virginia’s “restrictions on abortion and passing an enforceable ban on partial birth abortion that protects the life and health of the mother.”

As governor, Kaine did support some existing restrictions on abortion, including Virginia’s parental consent law and a so-called informed consent law. He also signed a 2009 measure that created “Choose Life” license plates in the state, and gave a percentage of the proceeds to a crisis pregnancy network.

Regardless of Clinton’s vice president pick, the “center of gravity in the Democratic Party has shifted in a bold, populist, progressive direction,” said Stephanie Taylor, co-founder of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, in an emailed statement. “It’s now more important than ever that Hillary Clinton run an aggressive campaign on core economic ideas like expanding Social Security, debt-free college, Wall Street reform, and yes, stopping the TPP. It’s the best way to unite the Democratic Party, and stop Republicans from winning over swing voters on bread-and-butter issues.”

CORRECTION: A previous version of this article included a typo that misidentified Sen. Tim Kaine as a Republican. We regret this error.

Roundups Sexual Health

This Week in Sex: The Sexually Transmitted Infections Edition

Martha Kempner

A new Zika case suggests the virus can be transmitted from an infected woman to a male partner. And, in other news, HPV-related cancers are on the rise, and an experimental chlamydia vaccine shows signs of promise.

This Week in Sex is a weekly summary of news and research related to sexual behavior, sexuality education, contraception, STIs, and more.

Zika May Have Been Sexually Transmitted From a Woman to Her Male Partner

A new case suggests that males may be infected with the Zika virus through unprotected sex with female partners. Researchers have known for a while that men can infect their partners through penetrative sexual intercourse, but this is the first suspected case of sexual transmission from a woman.

The case involves a New York City woman who is in her early 20s and traveled to a country with high rates of the mosquito-borne virus (her name and the specific country where she traveled have not been released). The woman, who experienced stomach cramps and a headache while waiting for her flight back to New York, reported one act of sexual intercourse without a condom the day she returned from her trip. The following day, her symptoms became worse and included fever, fatigue, a rash, and tingling in her hands and feet. Two days later, she visited her primary-care provider and tests confirmed she had the Zika virus.

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A few days after that (seven days after intercourse), her male partner, also in his 20s, began feeling similar symptoms. He had a rash, a fever, and also conjunctivitis (pink eye). He, too, was diagnosed with Zika. After meeting with him, public health officials in the New York City confirmed that he had not traveled out of the country nor had he been recently bit by a mosquito. This leaves sexual transmission from his partner as the most likely cause of his infection, though further tests are being done.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)’s recommendations for preventing Zika have been based on the assumption that virus was spread from a male to a receptive partner. Therefore the recommendations had been that pregnant women whose male partners had traveled or lived in a place where Zika virus is spreading use condoms or abstain from sex during the pregnancy. For those couples for whom pregnancy is not an issue, the CDC recommended that men who had traveled to countries with Zika outbreaks and had symptoms of the virus, use condoms or abstain from sex for six months after their trip. It also suggested that men who traveled but don’t have symptoms use condoms for at least eight weeks.

Based on this case—the first to suggest female-to-male transmission—the CDC may extend these recommendations to couples in which a female traveled to a country with an outbreak.

More Signs of Gonorrhea’s Growing Antibiotic Resistance

Last week, the CDC released new data on gonorrhea and warned once again that the bacteria that causes this common sexually transmitted infection (STI) is becoming resistant to the antibiotics used to treat it.

There are about 350,000 cases of gonorrhea reported each year, but it is estimated that 800,000 cases really occur with many going undiagnosed and untreated. Once easily treatable with antibiotics, the bacteria Neisseria gonorrhoeae has steadily gained resistance to whole classes of antibiotics over the decades. By the 1980s, penicillin no longer worked to treat it, and in 2007 the CDC stopped recommending the use of fluoroquinolones. Now, cephalosporins are the only class of drugs that work. The recommended treatment involves a combination of ceftriaxone (an injectable cephalosporin) and azithromycin (an oral antibiotic).

Unfortunately, the data released last week—which comes from analysis of more than 5,000 samples of gonorrhea (called isolates) collected from STI clinics across the country—shows that the bacteria is developing resistance to these drugs as well. In fact, the percentage of gonorrhea isolates with decreased susceptibility to azithromycin increased more than 300 percent between 2013 and 2014 (from 0.6 percent to 2.5 percent).

Though no cases of treatment failure has been reported in the United States, this is a troubling sign of what may be coming. Dr. Gail Bolan, director of CDC’s Division of STD Prevention, said in a press release: “It is unclear how long the combination therapy of azithromycin and ceftriaxone will be effective if the increases in resistance persists. We need to push forward on multiple fronts to ensure we can continue offering successful treatment to those who need it.”

HPV-Related Cancers Up Despite Vaccine 

The CDC also released new data this month showing an increase in HPV-associated cancers between 2008 and 2012 compared with the previous five-year period. HPV or human papillomavirus is an extremely common sexually transmitted infection. In fact, HPV is so common that the CDC believes most sexually active adults will get it at some point in their lives. Many cases of HPV clear spontaneously with no medical intervention, but certain types of the virus cause cancer of the cervix, vulva, penis, anus, mouth, and neck.

The CDC’s new data suggests that an average of 38,793 HPV-associated cancers were diagnosed each year between 2008 and 2012. This is a 17 percent increase from about 33,000 each year between 2004 and 2008. This is a particularly unfortunate trend given that the newest available vaccine—Gardasil 9—can prevent the types of HPV most often linked to cancer. In fact, researchers estimated that the majority of cancers found in the recent data (about 28,000 each year) were caused by types of the virus that could be prevented by the vaccine.

Unfortunately, as Rewire has reported, the vaccine is often mired in controversy and far fewer young people have received it than get most other recommended vaccines. In 2014, only 40 percent of girls and 22 percent of boys ages 13 to 17 had received all three recommended doses of the vaccine. In comparison, nearly 80 percent of young people in this age group had received the vaccine that protects against meningitis.

In response to the newest data, Dr. Electra Paskett, co-director of the Cancer Control Research Program at the Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center, told HealthDay:

In order to increase HPV vaccination rates, we must change the perception of the HPV vaccine from something that prevents a sexually transmitted disease to a vaccine that prevents cancer. Every parent should ask the question: If there was a vaccine I could give my child that would prevent them from developing six different cancers, would I give it to them? The answer would be a resounding yes—and we would have a dramatic decrease in HPV-related cancers across the globe.

Making Inroads Toward a Chlamydia Vaccine

An article published in the journal Vaccine shows that researchers have made progress with a new vaccine to prevent chlamydia. According to lead researcher David Bulir of the M. G. DeGroote Institute for Infectious Disease Research at Canada’s McMaster University, efforts to create a vaccine have been underway for decades, but this is the first formulation to show success.

In 2014, there were 1.4 million reported cases of chlamydia in the United States. While this bacterial infection can be easily treated with antibiotics, it often goes undiagnosed because many people show no symptoms. Untreated chlamydia can lead to pelvic inflammatory disease, which can leave scar tissue in the fallopian tubes or uterus and ultimately result in infertility.

The experimental vaccine was created by Canadian researchers who used pieces of the bacteria that causes chlamydia to form an antigen they called BD584. The hope was that the antigen could prompt the body’s immune system to fight the chlamydia bacteria if exposed to it.

Researchers gave BD584 to mice using a nasal spray, and then exposed them to chlamydia. The results were very promising. The mice who received the spray cleared the infection faster than the mice who did not. Moreover, the mice given the nasal spray were less likely to show symptoms of infection, such as bacterial shedding from the vagina or fluid blockages of the fallopian tubes.

There are many steps to go before this vaccine could become available. The researchers need to test it on other strains of the bacteria and in other animals before testing it in humans. And, of course, experience with the HPV vaccine shows that there’s work to be done to make sure people get vaccines that prevent STIs even after they’re invented. Nonetheless, a vaccine to prevent chlamydia would be a great victory in our ongoing fight against STIs and their health consequences, and we here at This Week in Sex are happy to end on a bit of a positive note.