Gov. Sarah Palin is about as adamant an opponent of abortion as a politician can be, and crusaders on the issue say they can't imagine a better candidate. Abortion-rights advocates say just the opposite.
Yet she has not pushed that agenda in her nearly two years as governor of Alaska. She backed a couple anti-abortion bills that died in the state Legislature during the regular session but didn't add them to the agenda during special sessions this summer.
Anti-abortion activists say she's done plenty simply by standing on the national stage with her new baby, Trig, born in April with Down syndrome.
That “speaks more eloquently than any words or any official actions that she may or may not have taken,” said Ed Wassell, president of Alaska Right to Life. “From that perspective, I think she's unmatched.”
Studies show that about 90 percent of women who learn they are carrying a Down baby choose to have an abortion.
Palin, now 44, found out when she was 13 weeks pregnant, according to a story published Friday in People magazine.
She hid her pregnancy from the public until she was about seven months along and didn't reveal the diagnosis until three days after Trig was born. She didn't tell her other children the new baby would be different, either, according to the magazine.
“Not knowing in my own heart if I was going to be ready to embrace a child with special needs,” she said, “I couldn't talk about it.”
After Trig was born, Palin sent relatives and close friends a letter she wrote in the voice of God.
“I let Trig's mom and dad find out before he was born that this little boy will truly be a GIFT,” Palin wrote, signing it “Trig's Creator, Your Heavenly Father.”
Palin has been walled off from news reporters since Aug. 29, when Sen. John McCain announced her as his running mate. She didn't respond to several requests for comment made through her spokeswoman in the presidential campaign.
For years, Palin has defined herself in Alaska as a hard-line social conservative who opposes abortion even in cases of rape or incest.
She explained her position in a questionnaire from the conservative group Eagle Forum Alaska in 2006 when she was campaigning for governor:
“I am pro-life. With the exception of a doctor's determination that the mother's life would end if the pregnancy continued. I believe that no matter what mistakes we make as a society, we cannot condone ending an innocent's life.”
What if her own daughter were raped and became pregnant? Palin was asked that in a Nov. 2, 2006, debate that aired statewide on public television. “I would choose life,” Palin answered.