Updated 11:10 a.m. Eastern
Sarah Palin said this morning that she understands why a woman "would be tempted" to have an abortion because of her experience with her son Trig.
Speaking at the Susan B. Anthony List Celebration of Life breakfast, Palin said that when she learned during her pregnancy that Trig would be born with Down syndrome, she "had no idea how I was going to handle the situation of raising a special needs child."
She said she was struck by "not knowing if my heart was ready, not knowing if I was patient and nurturing enough."
While she had previously believed that "God will never give me something I cannot handle," she said, she was left thinking, "I don't think I can handle this. This wasn't part of my life's plan."
As a busy mother who already had four kids and who was serving as Alaska governor, she said, she wondered how she would handle raising the child. She thought perhaps her sister, who has a child with autism, would have been better equipped to raise him.
Palin said the experience helped her understand how a woman would consider having an abortion, "because I've been there."
Yet once Trig was born, Palin said, she understood that "God does know what he's doing."
"And what seemed like it would be such a challenge has turned into our greatest blessing," Palin said, telling her audience he was "the best thing to ever happen" to her and her family.
Palin stressed she had always been strongly "pro-life," and had never actively considered abortion.
But she said that her experience as well as the experience of her daughter Bristol, who she said suffered "public humiliation" when she became pregnant at 17 years old, "changed my perspective on that situation."
"Our experience gave me empathy for those finding themselves in less than ideal circumstances," she said.
In the end, she said, she has "strengthened my support for choosing life," adding that it "may not be easiest, but it's the right path."
Palin's audience was the Susan B. Anthony List, which is focused on helping candidates who oppose abortion rights win elections. Referencing the compromise that helped get the health care reform bill passed, she told the group that those who feel the same way won't forget that ostensibly anti-abortion rights Democrats "caved at the last minute in exchange for a non-binding resolution from the most pro-abortion president who ever occupied the White House."
Palin also compared mothers upset about the direction of the country to "mama Grizzlies" who "rear up when someone comes for their cubs."
She said there were many such women in the room, adding that you "don't want to mess with moms who are rising up."
"Moms kinda just know when something's wrong," she said. "It's that mothers' intuition thing I think."
Palin defended her
"If she is unabashedly pro-life and all those other conservative things that she stands for, than she is the real deal," Palin said, arguing that Fiorina had taken strong conservative stands despite running in "deep blue California."