Sarah Palin

Reprinted from the Jewish World Review.

John McCain, here is your vice president

Nat Hentoff

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In 2006, Sarah Palin became
Alaska’s youngest and first woman governor after having earned a
reputation as a determined and successful advocate of ethics reform in
politics. In the primary, she defeated an incumbent Republican governor
and then a former two-term Democratic governor.

During her first year in office, as reported by the Associated Press on
May 10, she “distanced herself from the old guard, powerful members of
the state GOP (and) stood up to the oil interests that hold great power
in Alaska, and with bipartisan support in the statehouse, she won a tax
increase on the oil companies’ profits.”

Last December, the mother of four children, Palin, four months
pregnant, found she was going to have a child with Down syndrome, a
condition characterized by moderate-to-severe mental retardation. A
school friend of one of my sons had Down syndrome, and I have known
functioning adults with the extra chromosomes of that syndrome.

However, as a longtime reporter on disability rights, I have discovered
that many fetuses so diagnosed have been aborted by parents who have
been advised by their doctors to end the pregnancies because of the
future “imperfect quality of life” of such children.

Palin’s first reaction to the diagnosis was to research the facts about
the condition, since “I’ve never had problems with my other
pregnancies.” As a result, she and her husband, Todd, never had any
doubt they would have the child.

“We’ve both been very vocal about being pro-life,” she told the
Associated Press. “We understand that every innocent life has wonderful

In an age when DNA and other genetic-selection tests increasingly
determine who is “fit” to join us human beings, we are witnessing the
debate between sanctity of life versus quality of life being more often
decided in favor of death. This is a result welcomed by internationally
influential bioethicist Peter Singer, now a celebrated Princeton
University professor, who, in July 1983, wrote in “Pediatrics,” the
official Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics:

“If we compare a severely defective human infant with a nonhuman
animal, a dog or pig, for example, we will often find the nonhuman to
have superior capacities, both actual and potential, for rationality,
self-consciousness, communication, and anything else that can plausibly
be considered morally significant.”

And there are bioethicists who point to the continuing costs of rearing
a “defective infant.”
By inspirational contrast, Palin, says of her new son, Trig: “I’m
looking at him right now, and I see perfection. Yeah, he has an extra
chromosome. I keep thinking, in our world, what is normal and what is

Three days after she gave birth, Palin was back in her Anchorage office
with her husband and Trig. “I can think of so many male candidates,”
she tells the AP, “who watched families grow while they were in office.
There is no reason to believe a woman can’t do it with a growing
family. My baby will not be at all or in any sense neglected.”

Says the governor of Alaska, “I will not shirk my duties.” Taking her
stand for life as a holder of high political office is all the more
valuable in the face of not only the termination of fetal lives as not
worth continuing before they can speak for themselves, but it also puts
a searching light on the growing “futility” doctrine in hospitals —
affecting born people of all ages.

Nancy Valko, a medical ethicist and intensive-care nurse I consult on
these lives-worth-living debates, has emphasized that “with the rise of
the modern bioethics movement, life is no longer assumed to have the
intrinsic value it once did, and ‘quality of life’ has become the
overriding consideration.”

Because of Palin’s reputation as a maverick, and her initial reduction
of state spending (including pork-barrel spending), life-affirming
Palin connects with voters and has been mentioned as a possible vice
presidential running mate for John McCain.

She would be a decided asset — an independent Republican governor, a
woman, a defender of life against the creeping culture of death and a
fresh face in national politics, described in “the Almanac of National
Politics” as “an avid hunter and fisher with a killer smile who wears
designer glasses and heels, and hair like modern sculpture.”

Still unknown is whether Palin would be as flip-flopping as McCain on
the Bush torture policy that has so blighted our reputation in the
world. But we’d find out, as — if chosen as his running mate — she
would create more interest in this already largely scripted
presidential campaign.

And her presence could highlight Obama’s extremist abortion views on whether certain lives are worth living, even a child born after a botched abortion.

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