By Amy Gardner
Friday, May 14, 2010; 1:47 PM
Former Alaska governor Sarah Palin told a group of women who oppose abortion rights that they are responsible for an "emerging, conservative, feminist identity" and have the power to shape politics and elections around the issue of life.
Speaking to a breakfast gathering Friday of the Susan B. Anthony List in downtown Washington, Palin urged more than 500 audience members to back only those candidates for public office who are uncompromisingly opposed to abortion.
"Being a pro-life politician is more than just a convenient title, come election time," Palin said. "It means making tough decisions even if it means bucking your party."
The Susan B. Anthony List, a modest counterpart to the well-funded pro-abortion-rights Emily's List, was founded in the early 1990s to elect antiabortion candidates, mostly women, to public office. The group is seeking to raise its profile this year with the passage of a health-care bill; many antiabortion activists opposed the measure because it does not ban the federal funding of abortions.
Particular targets of the group this year are Democrats whom it previously viewed as "pro-life" but voted in favor of the health bill. Among them: Rep. Steve Driehaus of Ohio, who is facing a tough challenge from the Republican he ousted two years ago, Steve Chabot.
Palin urged her listeners to stick to those principles, and she delivered a stream of calls to action to an audience dominated by women.
"The mama grizzlies, they rise up," she said, to laughter. "You thought pit bulls are tough. You don't want to mess with the mama grizzlies. And I think there are a whole lot of those in this room."
The audience became rapt as Palin described learning in 2007, after 12 weeks of pregnancy, that the child she was carrying had Down syndrome: "I said, 'God, I don't think I can handle this. This wasn't part of my life's plan.' "
But Palin went on to tell of her decision to keep the child and continue the pregnancy. She described her now-2-year-old son Trig as her family's "greatest blessing," and said he was "God whispering in my ear, saying, 'Are you going to trust me? Are you going to walk the walk or are you going to talk the talk?' "
Palin also told of her teenage daughter Bristol's decision, after becoming pregnant, to keep her baby. And Palin criticized abortion-rights advocates for delivering the message to young mothers that they don't have the strength to go through with pregnancy and motherhood.
"Our prominent woman sisterhood is telling these young women that they are strong enough to deal with this," Palin said. "They can give their child life, in addition to pursuing career and education and avocations. Society wants to tell these young women otherwise. These feminist groups want to tell these women that, 'No, you're not capable of doing both.' . . . It's very hypocritical."