For pro-choice activists, Gov. Sarah Palin’s (R-AK) short time in public office is characterized by her strong opposition to reproductive rights and sensible sex-education.
As mayor of Wasilla, the Palin administration “cut funds that had previously paid” for rape kits “and began charging victims or their health insurers the $500 to $1200 fee.” Palin expressed support for a constitutional amendment outlawing abortion, opposed abortion in cases of rape or incest, strongly supported failed abstinence-only initiatives, and generally described herself as “pro‐life as any candidate can be.”
In her exclusive interview with ABC’s Charlie Gibson, Palin moderated her rhetoric, saying that she respected the views of the pro-choice community:
I am pro-life. I do respect other people’s opinion on this also, and I think that a culture of life is best for America. What I want to do when elected vice president with John McCain, hopefully be able to reach out and work with those who are on the other side of this issue…I do understand McCain’s position on this, I understand others who are very passionate about this issue who have a differing view.
But Palin’s wasn’t alway so understanding. In fact, according to at least one report, Palin may have physically prevented or intimidated women from exercising their right to have an abortion.
Salon reports that in 1996, as “evangelical churches [in Alaska] mounted a vigorous campaign to take over the local hospital’s community board and ban abortion,” Palin participated in a “boisterous picket line” against an OB-GYN who opposed activists’ efforts to “take over the local hospital’s community board and ban abortion”:
At one point during the hospital battle, passions ran so hot that local antiabortion activists organized a boisterous picket line outside Dr. [Susan] Lemagie’s office, in an unassuming professional building across from Palmer’s Little League field. According to Bess [a priest who often clashed with Palin and the evangelical community] and another community activist, among the protesters trying to disrupt the physician’s practice that day was Sarah Palin.
The protest came two years after President Clinton signed the Freedom of Access to Clinics Entrances Act (FACE), “legislation that makes it a Federal crime to attack or blockade abortion clinics, their operators or their patrons.” Not surprisingly, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), who has consistantly received a score of zero from NARAL, voted against the bill.
UPDATE: Dr. Susan Lemagtie’s 16-year-old daughter reflected on anti-abortion protests in a 1998 essay:
Picketers began protesting at the hospital across the street from my mom’s clinic. In late ’94, when the national papers carried stories about bombed abortion clinics and murdered doctors, they moved to the sidewalk outside the clinic. My mother no longer talked about managed care and AIDS; she talked about buying a bulletproof vest.