As a follow-up to my previous post on Sarah Palin and the Alaska pro-choice group photo, I heard back from Geran Tarr, executive director of the Alliance for Reproductive Justice in Anchorage. She explained that the picture of her group and others, taken with Governor Palin last year, included representatives from the Alaska Women's Political Caucus, Planned Parenthood, and students.
The occasion for the photograph was the group's meeting with Governor Palin so members could present an open letter asking for her support on five issues. The group knew Governor Palin's stance on abortion rights (she opposes them) so that issue was not among the five raised. The letter did, however, seek support for more funding for domestic violence shelters where abused women may bring children when they flee abusive partners or spouses. Governor Palin this year increased funding for these shelters, but by a mere $100,000 (which won't go very far to help abused women or their children) in a year when the state enjoyed a $7 billion surplus. Advocates for battered women were disappointed by this. Alaska, according to Ms. Tarr, ranks first in the nation for the rate of rape, some sexually transmitted diseases, and sexual assault.
The group also asked Governor Palin to raise the income levels for families allowed to receive S-CHIP (or State Children's Health Insurance Program) benefits and Palin has not done so.
Lastly, the group asked her to support biologically and medically accurate sex education in public schools--something the governor specifically opposed in a written questionnaire to the conservative Eagle Forum. The governor's response was to "tell us personal stories about how she was lucky, as mayor of Wasilla, to be able to breast-feed at work, and to thank us for coming. She also sent all signers of the open letter personal letters of thanks." She did not make any commitments to change family-oriented policies.
By Bonnie Erbe