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Palin tells anti-abortion rights activists that she understands why women have abortions

In a fast-paced and revealing speech Friday to the anti-abortion rights group Susan B. Anthony List, Sarah Palin mixed campaign rhetoric with a monologue on what it was like to learn that her son Trig would have Down syndrome, and how her daughter Bristol grappled with her unplanned pregnancy. It's an issue she's discussed with other anti-abortion rights groups, and in her memoir "Going Rogue," but the audience was spellbound as she told the story again.

"I never ordered up, planned on, being the mother of a son with special needs," said Palin. "I thought, God would never give me something I couldn't handle."

Trig, said Palin, was "the best thing that ever happened" to her and her family. She recalled looking into her newborn son's eyes and imagining what he thought: "See, God knows what he's doing! He gave me to you, and He gave you to me! See, it's going to be good."

She described his sense of wonder, and told activists that observers "can already see sort of this perspective in this child that I think the rest of us are supposed to emulate." But she stressed, again, the lesson she'd learned with those first thoughts upon hearing that her son would be developmentally disabled.

"I now understand why a woman would be tempted, perhaps, to think it might be an easier way out, to say, 'I can take this in my own hands and change this,' " said Palin, "if even for a moment. I can understand because I've been there."

She praised her daughter Bristol "for having to endure some public humiliation, bless her heart, there on the national stage," and informed the crowd of Bristol's pro-abstinence slogan, "pause before you play."

On politics, Palin was pugnacious and confident, reminding the crowd that she'd endorsed Senate candidate Carly Fiorina in California and that she'd be in South Carolina to endorse dark horse gubernatorial candidate Nikki Haley.

"There's a whole stampede of pink elephants coming down the road," said Palin, "ETA November 2010!"

Palin contrasted the candidates she was supporting with antiabortion Democrats who, after a tussle, ended up backing the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

"We won't forget those who buckled at the last moment in exchange for a nonbinding executive order from the most pro-choice president in history," said Palin, referring to retiring Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.). "Our new pro-life pro-woman majority will actually be pro-life when it counts, when those voters are needed." (One mark of how betrayed the movement feels by Democrats: The SBA List's handouts for the press, printed before the health care vote, still cited its support for Stupak).

But the political talk was not nearly as captivating in the room as Palin's frank talk about her family. SBA List's Marjorie Dannenfelser happily reminded the crowd that "the biggest applause was for Trig."

By David Weigel  |  May 14, 2010; 11:01 AM ET
Categories:  Abortion , Sarah Palin  
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