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.

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