Sarah Palin touted what she called an “emerging conservative feminist identity” on Friday, during a speech in Washington to a pro-life group in which she said that having a child with Down’s Syndrome has given her “empathy” for women who have abortions.
Palin, the former Republican governor of Alaska and vice presidential candidate, did speak about politics and the Tea Party movement, but much of her talk sought to make the modern day version of the pro-life argument.
The speech assumed that most of the country believes – as President Obama has said – that abortion is undesirable and that the number of women seeking abortions should be reduced. But in contrast to the left’s emphasis on sex education and contraception distribution, Palin argued that women can have careers and still be moms, that raising children in difficult circumstances is hard but is worth it, and that adoption should be the solution if all else fails.
Palin spoke extensively about her own two-year old son, Trig, who has Down’s Syndrome, and her daughter Bristol’s teenage pregnancy. Both situations, she said, had taught her to have “huge empathy” for women who get pregnant when they are not expecting to or have children with disabilities.
“It has changed my perspective on the whole situation,” Palin said. “I now understand why a woman would be tempted perhaps to think it might be an easier way out … I now understand what goes through her mind.”
Palin, speaking to several hundred attendees at a breakfast sponsored by the Susan B. Anthony List, cautioned the crowd that this did not mean she had considered an abortion. She said Trig has been “the best thing that has ever happened to me,” and told women considering abortions that their lives will “change for the better” if they give birth to their child.
And she said liberal feminists were wrong to tell women with unwanted pregnancies that they are “not strong enough” and “not capable.”
“Women you are strong enough. You are capable of doing this,” Palin said.
In the portion of the speech that touched on politics, Palin also sounded a woman-focused theme, citing a “mom awakening” for fueling the Tea Party movement.
“The policies coming out of D.C. are allowing us to feel empowered … to rise up together,” Palin said. “Because moms kinda just know when things are wrong.”
Palin took a few subtle shots at Obama, promoting candidates “that will not vote present on the issue of life,” and telling the audience that the question of when life begins is “not above anybody’s pay grade.”
Obama, Palin said, is “the most pro-abortion president to occupy the White House.”
Palin also said she misses President George W. Bush. She referenced a picture she had seen of Bush with the words, “Miss me yet?”
“We do!” Palin said.
Yet although Palin was headed for South Carolina later in the day to campaign for a Republican candidate for governor, she did not make many mentions of the GOP.
Palin, in fact, did not say that the Tea Party movement was good for the Republican Party.
“This is so good for our republic,” she said. “To have this rising up, this awakening.”
“Look out Washington.”
The liberal women’s group Emily’s List responded to Palin’s speech, but even in disagreement the group’s president, Stephanie Schriock, begrudgingly acknowledged that Palin “talks a good game.”
Yet Schriock said that Palin’s “version of what American women want doesn’t honor the freedom and independence that the women I grew up with in Montana cherish.”
“Palin doesn’t seem to trust American women to make their own decisions – though she speaks movingly about her own,” Schriock said.