Palin’s Record on Family Issues

By Katie Paul

The news about Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin’s family dominated the headlines Monday afternoon--and triggered a debate about politics, motherhood and the balance between the two. But the particulars of her personal life may not be as useful in judging her candidacy for the No. 2 job as does her legislative record on family issues.

Two years into her governorship, that record is still pretty thin. Although openly pro-life, Palin has spent her political capital on other projects, like the natural-gas pipeline project she finally managed to push through at the beginning of August. As a result, besides giving speeches at Right to Life events, the family-values governor appears to have barely devoted any time or energy to family issues in her first two years in office. She rejected a state legislator’s request for extra debates on a partial-birth-abortion ban during a special session in April, saying she'd need to see a “path to success” to justify additional time spent on the issue.

But her administration may be about to lay fresh tracks; now that Palin has successfully tackled the energy matter, her special assistant says she's eager to direct her energies toward "other issues" important to her. She wouldn't specify further, so perhaps the most detailed account of Palin's views remains her responses to a questionnaire put out in 2006 by the Alaskan arm of the conservative pro-family group The Eagle Forum. We've pulled the questions most relevant to family planning, but you can access the questionnaire in its entirety here.

1. Complete the sentence by checking the applicable phrases (you can check more than one).
Abortion should be:

  • Banned throughout entire pregnancy.
  • Legal to save the life of the mother.
  • Legal in case of rape and incest.
  • Legal if the baby is handicapped.
  • Legal if the baby has a genetic defect.
  • Legal in the first trimester.
  • Legal in the second trimester.
  • Legal in the third trimester.
  • Other:__________________

Sarah Palin: 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.

3. Will you support funding for abstinence-until-marriage education instead of for explicit sex-education programs, school-based clinics, and the distribution of contraceptives in schools?
Sarah Palin:
Yes, the explicit sex-ed programs will not find my support.

8. Do you support parental choice in the spending of state educational dollars?
Sarah Palin:
Within Alaska law, I support parents deciding what is the best education venue for their child.

12. In relationship to families, what are your top three priorities if elected governor?
Sarah Palin:
1) Creating an atmosphere where parents feel welcome to choose the venues of education for their children; 2) Preserving the definition of “marriage” as defined in our constitution, and 3) Cracking down on the things that harm family life: gangs, drug use, and infringement of our liberties including attacks on our 2nd Amendment rights.


Editor's Note: This item originally reported that Palin's public-health division had decided to submit an application for a federally-funded program to promote abstinence from sexual activity. Subsequent reporting revealed that the division had decided otherwise.