Sarah Palin, who's monopolizing the airwaves as part of her publicity tour for her new book, Going Rogue, is widely viewed as one of the more pro-life politicians on the current scene. After all, her youngest child, Trig, received a pre-natal diagnosis of Down Syndrome, but she rejected any and all entreaties to terminate the pregnancy.
But this gesture doesn't mean she's adequately anti-abortion -- not by the standards of American Right to Life, anyhow. The Denver-based organization has launched a new website, ProlifeProfiles.com, in which the pro-life credentials of politicians are put to the test. And Palin comes up wanting.
The site is divided into four categories: "Personhood Now" (the purest anti-abortion figures), "Personhood Whenever" (people who call for abortion to be both banned and regulated -- and don't eschew anti-abortion violence), "Personhood Later" (those willing to wait for court or legislative action) or "Personhood Never" -- leaders and organizations that "fundamentally deny the personhood and God-given right to life of the unborn by advocating a permanent 'legalization' and often even funding of the intentional killing of some preborn children for various reasons."
Palin's in that last tier (read the profile here), and according to Darrell Birkey, director of American Right to Life Action, ARTL's political-action committee, she richly deserves to be there.
"Lots of politicians speak in politician-speak," Birkey maintains. "They've learned key catch phrases that people will accept. For example, they will say, as Sarah Palin does, 'I'm personally pro-life.' Well, personally pro-life in politician-speak simply means 'I'm pro-choice.' It usually goes, 'I'm personally pro-life, but... I wouldn't do this myself, but I don't want to imppose my views on anyone else...'"
Worse from Birkey's perspective, "Sarah Palin has often stated that she thought certain things should be legal, like the morning-after pill and some abortions. She has never gone on record as saying she would back a pro-life amendment to any state constitution or the federal constitution. And she never actually did anything as governor about this. In fact, she has clearly said that if Roe v. Wade was overturned and it came back to the State of Alaska, she would leave it to the voters rather than try to influence the outcome."
Palin has plenty of company in the "Personhood Never" camp. Among those joining her is former President George W. Bush.
In Birkey's opinion, "George W. Bush fell short before he was even elected when he promised -- key word, 'promised' -- that he would not try to overturn Roe v. Wade, and he promised that he would not appoint justices who would try to overturn Roe v. Wade. And he kept that promise by appointing Judge [Samuel] Alito, who actually voted to overturn the partial-birth-abortion ban in New Jersey, and he appointed Justice [John] Roberts, who says he considers Roe v. Wade to be settled law."
Even Bush's to limit embryonic stem-cell research to a handful of previously existing lines doesn't earn him any points with Birkey: "This is Dr. Mengele science whichever way you do it. Would you say, 'I didn't want to kill the Jews, but now that they're already dead, let's use their body parts for research'? To say we're going to use murdered human beings for research isn't ethical."
Although the pro-life profiles are national in scope, ARTL has made its mark locally as well -- most notably around the time of the Democratic National Convention, when it unveiled an enormous hillside protest sign that used the letters "DNC" in spelling out the words "Destroys Unborn Children;" see a video about that below.
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These days, the group is pushing for the so-called Personhood Initiative slated for the 2010 ballot. Some reports suggest that the measure marks the beginning of life at any even earlier point than one from 2008. But Birkey that aside from "clarifying a little of the language," the latest version is basically the same as one that was roundly rejected the first time around. And that's good, he believes, since bending in the political breeze is antithetical to ARTL's mission.
"American Right to Life was created as an alternative to National Right to Life," arguably the country's best-known pro-life group, Birkey says. "We saw that they were becoming a compromising organization that was more Republican than pro-life. Since they don't back any of these personhood movements, which establishes a right to life in the constitution, their claim to the 'right to life' name is wrong."
He feels the same way about Sarah Palin.