Sarah Palin & Me, Part II~ Choice & Healthcare Reform

Earlier this fall I was surprised to find that one of my readers was referred by the Sarah Palin Information blog.  But then I discovered that this link of her conservative voice to my own (progressive one) was a simple slip of the Net–joining two voices on health care–albeit opposing ones.

This time, however, it is me who is initiating the link,

and here’s why…

I just found out, on the family grapevine, that my grandmother had two illegal abortions in the late 1940s (after giving birth to four children.)

My uncle (a fundamentalist pastor), was her fifth child (following the abortions) and it was he who shared this information with me on Facebook after a flurry of posts in which I attempted to solicit an understanding of the infuriating connection between healthcare reform and abortion.

This shocking news about my grandmother, followed my reading of:  Sarah Palin: Abortion Is So Bogus.

According to Salon,”The former Alaska governor gave a speech to Wisconsin Right to Life this past Friday, where she relied on words like “bogus” and “awesome” to make points about healthcare reform and abortion.”

Said the ex-governor, “It is so bogus that society is sending a message right now and has been for probably the last 40 years that a woman isn’t strong enough or smart enough to be able to pursue an education, a career and her rights and still let her baby live.”

It must have been 60 years ago that my grandmother had her illegal abortions (which she and many other entitled women referred to as their “miscarriages.”)

The first time she found herself pregnant was at the age 19, after which she dropped out of college to become a mother to my father (and a wife to my grandfather,)  giving birth to three more children before she choosing abortion as a means of birth control.

My grandmother never returned to her education or embarked on a career, although she had always dreamed of serving at the United Nations as a translator.  All those hours spent working with me on my French at her kitchen table now make even more sense.

I wish I had known about her abortions. It would have softened the harsh solitude of my own choice, 40 years later. Discovering this link now, opens a million doors in my understanding of women, and I feel a renewed connection to those who have come before me, and to the challenge of our choices-or lack of them.

My own mother was sent to live in a home for unwed mothers when she became pregnant with my older sister who she gave up for adoption.  The following year she met my father and became pregnant with me, resulting in a sudden marriage.

Raised Catholic, my mother gave birth to 9 children and never chose abortion, though she accepted my choice with understanding, and often said, “If you ever get pregnant, don’t make a second mistake. You don’t have to get married.”

Both she and my grandmother became alcoholics who never fully claimed their education, their careers or their rights despite their shared and differing choices.

My uncle (who is a fundamentalist preacher) explains to me on Facebook that he was my grandmother’s 7th pregnancy–the one she didn’t tell my physician grandfather about until the second trimester– when he wouldn’t have allowed her to have another abortion.

This implies that perhaps she hadn’t wanted any of the abortions. But whether she did or not, I have compassion for the choices she faced.

I tell my uncle that I’m happy he wasn’t aborted, that I love all babies–and I do.  I love the ones who have come into my life and the ones who haven’t– including the grievous loss of two early pregnancies in my  thirties before I became a mother of two wonderful sons.

This contradiction of love doesn’t take away my understanding of a women’s desire to choose when she brings another child into the world. And it isn’t always as simple as a decision about education, or career or even rights, as Sarah Palin exclaims.

Whether Christian, Jew or Muslim, Pro-Life or Choice, Conservative or Progressive, a mother of many or of none, the choices that we face as women are unique to us.  And when we sit across from each other at the kitchen table, our separations fall away, and what remains is what is also unique to women–compassion, understanding and acceptance.

In this spirit of understanding, I have compassion for how it is that Sarah Palin chooses her career over caring for her children full time, how she leaves her tiny baby in another’s arms while she runs a state, or a national campaign, or embarks on “rogue” book tour–While I, on the other hand have given up everything to be at home in these vital years when my children need me most–particularly my teenage son, who will soon be making decisions about his own sexuality, as Sarah Palin’s daughter did.

What I don’t understand is how Sarah Palin, the politician, works to protect unborn children, while preventing legislation that would support them once they are born.

What I can’t accept is that she and others take this so-called “moral” stance for the sanctity of life without wanting to provide for it and without taking responsibility for many of the harsh choices that many women face.

Framing the provision of health care reform around the issue of abortion is the most immoral act of all.

If Sarah Palin is “America’s Conservative Conscience,” as the t-shirts worn at the Right to Life Rally proclaimed, it’s time we go shopping for a new look!

Kelly Salasin

7 thoughts on “Sarah Palin & Me, Part II~ Choice & Healthcare Reform

  1. Kelly, I am a woman with 3 children, only one of which was planned. With my 3rd, it was a very bad situation, and I truly tried to talk myself into an abortion (even though I’ve always believed with all my heart that it is the taking of a life that I have no right to take). Long story short, I chose life, I came to terms with my pregnancy, and gave birth to my beautiful, eccentric little boy (with developmental disabilities). It’s been a hard road (I was a single mother), I’ve made sacrifices, but I wouldn’t change anything.

    Without going into details, trust that it would have been easier for me (and my other two children) if I had chosen to abort, financially and not to mention easier in regard to society.

    But just as I have to understand that women have a right to abort, and have a right to vote based on their belief that abortions should be allowed (for whatever reason), those whose rights I must respect need to understand that when a woman truly believes that abortion is the taking of an innocent life (as opposed to the dicing up of “a mass of living tissue, with no consciousness or awareness”), she has no choice but to act “for” life, even to her own detriment (if that’s the case), and to vote “for” life, because it’s the only vote her conscience will allow her to cast.

    I’ve been in your grandmother’s shoes, and I’ve been in Sarah’s shoes. They both wore the same shoes to a certain degree. Sarah made a choice, knowing it would be difficult, and your grandmother or grandfather made a choice, and it seems as if it was difficult for your grandmother.

    I am also an adoptee – the product of a teenager whose family was Catholic and sent her to a home and told her not to come back with a baby. I have to admit that I’m glad abortion wasn’t legal back then, and after knowing the parents who raised me and the woman who had me, I thank God for adoption.

    There are 2 sides to every coin. A woman is no less “liberated” when she chooses to keep a child (even one with disabilities), or is proud to be a wife, and happy with being a mom and wife.

    I disagree with some comments that have been made (not sure if it’s here or Huff – I’m tired atm) that she’s not a good mother because she takes her baby out in public and has a career that takes her away from her family (I also took my children to work, and at other times worked from home to be with them – as a mom, you do what you need to do, and hope to find a balance of self gratification with the needs of your family). And when that child is not with her, he’s with his father, and maybe even the grandparents sometimes. He’s not dumped in a daycare being raised by strangers. And his mother is spending most of his waking hours with him, even on that book tour (the signings run about 6 hours, the rest of the time is spent on a bus, where she can do a lot of one on one with the kids, and their dad is with them, too – his role shouldn’t be discounted.

    I also disagree with some of the catty comments (again, not sure if I read them here or on Huff) regarding her oldest daughter’s pregnancy. C’mon, folks, be real. You don’t have to raise your hands, but I’d wager most of your parents were against you having sex with your high school boyfriend, and chances are good you had some sort of sex with your high school boyfriend anyway. Does it mean your parents sucked at parenthood? Or that you had a mind of your own and thought you knew what was good for you more than your old fuddy duddy parents did?

    And someone (here or Huff) commented that Levi was allowed to spend the night with Bristol. No, that was Levi’s story and only Levi’s story. And no matter how much your politics causes you to loathe Palin, championing the iffy (at best) word of Playgirl’s boy toy, who hasn’t really shown much in the way of intellect, integrity or honesty is… lame.

    On healthcare…. conservatives don’t want people to die or be sick without healthcare. That’s absolutely NOT where we stand. But we would like to see healthcare reform that makes sense, that does not create 100+ bureaucracies, levy the greatest, most punishing tax on the middle class in 50 years, doesn’t punish small business and those lucky enough to have insurance, and fine and threaten with jail those Americans who choose to pay cash for their healthcare (I’m 45 years old and have never had insurance – it’s always been cheaper for me to pay cash for our health needs, which usually would be less than the deductable and always less than the cost of even a basic insurance plan).

    Healthcare for all can be resolved rather simply (and doesn’t take 2000 pages!). First, allow competition (sell across state lines) = lower prices, better quality. Second, tort reform = still get paid for actual damages and lost wages present and future, but there’s a limit to pain and suffering (ie: if you are dumb enough to put hot McD’s coffee between your thighs while driving and slam on your brakes and your thighs get burned, you don’t get rewarded with $1 million – when you should be fined $1,000,000 for being dumb).

    Now that insurance and medical costs are more affordable (thanks to above), slightly increase the medicaid income levels to cover a few more ppl.

    Then, for those without enough to pay the full cost of insurance, but not poor enough for the Medicaid, give them a rebate percentage of a basic healthcare policy – kind of like the earned income credit, but for those who bought a policy the previous year. The more they make, the small percentage the gov’t rebates (and no tax deduction or credit – that only helps those who make enough to pay taxes).

    For the truly uninsurable? Then the gov’t can step in and put them on Medicaid or a modified Medicaid (where they pay a percentage of the medical bills up to a certain cap, depending on their income).

    And for the insurance companies – no dropping people who have paid for insurance and then use it.

    For attys? Caps on the amount they can take from a suit (this would also help reduce rates for us).

    Notice that neither the insurance companies nor the attys are griping about healthcare bills now – that’s because they both make out like bandits with the house and senate bills.

    Above I have not solved all the problems, of course, but I’ve solved most of them, in far less than 2000 pages, I haven’t stolen $500 BILLION from our seniors/Medicare, I haven’t penalized small business or people with insurance, I haven’t fined anyone, I have not mandated healthcare for all (which will see our insurance rates skyrocket btw), but I’ve lowered the costs for most people so that more ppl can afford insurance, and I’ve made it so everyone who WANTS to be insured can be (something neither the house nor senate bill do), one way or another, without the gov’t taking it over (which is a guaranteed fail). And my plan would cost a fraction of what the house and senate are proposing.

    As for abortions that are elective? I’m sorry, but I would like an elective tummy tuck. Or a nose job. Or the bags under my eyes removed. Or the tiny veins on my legs removed with a laser. All elective. I’m all for the gov’t handing out condoms and birth control to anyone who wants them, using my tax dollars. I guess I’d be willing to consider my tax dollars being used for the elective abortions (used as birth control, not medically necessary) when those who want fed dollars to pay for their abortions are willing for fed dollars going toward my elective surgeries. Remember, we’re talking about ELECTIVE, not medically necessary.

    All conservatives are asking is that our elected officials employ a little bit of common sense – that they don’t tax the bejesus out of every American and put more burden on small business (we need them to create jobs, and then maybe more of us could afford to buy our own insurance, not to mention feeding our families and paying our rent or mortgage, not to mention the double cost of our utilities thanks to cap and trade), and to quit telling us how to spend our money (if we want to pay cash for our healthcare, it’s not the gov’t’s place to tell us we can’t!)

    Palin isn’t saying there should be no healthcare reform. She’s just saying what congress and the president are proposing are unreasonable (for all the reasons mentioned above).

    OK, I apologize for this being long and rambling – as I said, I’m tired, it’s been a long day… um, week. Ah, hell, who am I kidding? It’s been a long decade…


  2. I enjoyed your post and related to it in many ways. Having been raised Catholic in the days when abortion was illegal, I remember all the preaching and teachings against Abortion and birth control. I remember pregnant teens being sent to homes for unwed mothers and being forced to give up their babies for adoption against their will. I also remember women who had difficult pregnancies and were left to die in Catholic hospitals because life-threatening pregnancies were never allowed to be terminated under any circumstances. I had two friends who lost their mothers under those circumstances and I will never forget the hate and disdain their fathers had for the Church. Even as a child I couldn’t believe that religion could teach such callous disregard for the life of a mother of living children. Do people like Palin really want us to go back to those days? None of what she and her supporters say really makes sense. Most Catholics today do not adhere to the church’s rules on birth control or abortion and the bishops should tone down their rhetoric on these issues lest they lose more of their flock.


  3. Kelly, a lot of people in this world could learn a major lesson about grace and civility by reading the way you responded to Ms. Olson. I’m one of those people. Thank you.



  4. Your post, your history, and your perspective are quite moving. Thank you for having the courage to share your story and your grandmother’s. I’m sure she would be very proud of you.


    1. The most enlightening part of your post was the subject – Sarah Palin. If she (and the conservative cause) weren’t relevant and effective, you jealous and hypocritical haters on the left wouldn’t continue to target her and write about her. Keep it up – you’re making my job as a grassroots volunteer community organizer much easier. You and your liberal friends are driving thousands of people to the cause of liberty. Thanks.

      p.s. I won’t be back.


      1. Dear Kelly:

        Unfortunately, Ms. Olson’s preconceived notions and small, narrow mind apparently prevented her from reading your blog post beyond the name of Sarah Palin. Consequently, she never learned that your post was not about Palin but about a very personal, poignant story that connects you to your grandmother.

        You weren’t bashing anyone or spewing any hate in this post. But Ms. Olson certainly was–and the level of that hatred toward someone she doesn’t even know, when she obviously hadn’t even read your post, was incredibly disturbing.

        I’m sorry she found her way to you. And I’m happy she won’t be back.



      2. Hi Greta,
        In my six months of blogging and decades of writing, this is my first hostile response (and the first time in a lifetime that I’ve been called hypocritical and jealous.) Wow.
        Even the Jehovah Witnesses were tolerant.
        I’d love to hear more about what has upset you because the “conversation” is important to me.
        Saying, “you and your liberal friends” divides us and isn’t accurate as my friends include people from all walks,
        including two beloved sisters who are fundamentalist Christians.
        Given that you and I are both work at grassroots, I imagine we share the torch of those “who care” and act on behalf of what we hold dear.
        I suspect there is more we hold in common than divides us.


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