Pro-life activists most likely cheered upon seeing this week's In Touch Weekly. The magazine, usually devoted to the latest celebrity shenanigans, featured Sarah and Bristol Palin on the cover holding their baby boys under the headline, “We're Glad We Chose Life.”
But for the media, who find everything about Sarah Palin controversial, including, now, holding her own baby, it's one more attack opportunity that includes calling her daughter a “privileged” teen mother.
Mary Elizabeth Williams at Salon.com called the cover a “jaw dropper” and questioned the appropriateness of showing the Palins on it. “Hey, we're all for mothers loving their babies, but if it's not 1984 and you're not in a Wham! video, [in which George Michael wore a shirt that said “Choose Life”] you might want to reconsider whether that sentiment is appropriate in a pop culture context,” she wrote in a Jan. 14 post.
Later in her rant, Williams noted, “It's interesting, nonetheless, that the Palin women chose a magazine that chronicles the dating habits of Pussycat Dolls and provides makeovers to the cast of 'Jersey Shore' to express their heartfelt rhetoric on the joys of motherhood.”
Cassandra Gaddo, managing editor of Today's Chicago Woman, accused Palin of “deifying her own choices and using her resulting happy endings as proof that everyone should (be forced to) choose her choice.”
The story that accompanied the cover shoot did not “deify” the Palins or their choices, nor did it push any sort of policy. The photo spread and story looked similar to those that herald the birth of other celebrity children and included adorable pictures of the boys and comments from
In Touch's cover carries a special poignancy this week as Friday, January 22, marks the 37th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court ruling that legalized abortion.
Both women gave birth to their babies under strained circumstances. Sarah, as is widely known, discovered at age 43 that she was pregnant with her son, Trig, who was prenatally diagnosed with Down syndrome.
Both women had a choice to make in their situations. Both chose to carry their pregnancies to term. And yet when they discuss their choices in a public forum like a magazine, these women are vilified. Even In Touch used the word “controversial” to describe
Appropriateness of Showing Babies?
Williams' questioning of what's appropriate for pop culture cuts to the mainstream media's outlook on life issues. Sure, pop culture's reality shows and magazines are fine for elevating ill-behaved people to A-list status. It's fine for promoting liberal politicians, like Ashton Kutcher and his
In the Palins' case, it's particularly significant that they spoke lovingly of Trig as 92 percent of babies with Down syndrome are aborted.
Sarah told Barbara Walters in November 2009 that she thought about abortion upon receiving Trig's diagnosis. “I knew that the option was there … I thought again, for that split second, 'OK, now I know too, why, when that fear strikes you because of the unknown,” she stated in a “20/20” interview. “I understood then, too, why a woman would consider [abortion] an easier path perhaps, if you will, do away with the problem, instead of understanding that every child has a purpose.”
To In Touch, Sarah explained the joys that Trig brought to her and her family's lives. “He's made me more patient and compassionate, and more focused on priorities that really matter,” the former governor said. “Even more so now with Trig, there is less time to worry about the frivolity, less time to engage in things that aren't worthwhile or worth my time and effort.”
As for Trig's future, Sarah told In Touch that she and her husband Todd are not afraid, but “have great hope and lot of optimism.”
For her part,
At no point in the article did
Sarah also spoke of opportunities
But even through the difficult situation of caring for Tripp, while going to school and working,
'Privileged' Teen Mom
Blogger Cassandra Gaddo and Salon's Mary Elizabeth Williams both complained about the use of the word “choice” in the headline.
“The thing about “we're glad we chose life” is it implies they had a choice,” argued Gaddo. After tossing the faint praise of “raising a baby with Down's [sic] syndrome or alone as a single, teen parent is no easy feat,” Gadoo further griped because, “They don't mention the fact that they're prefer just to take that choice away from the rest of American woman. And they make nary a mention of the fact that both mother and daughter have access to social and economic resources that many other women in similar situations don't.”
“A big reason [
Williams made similar points. She called Sarah and
Prior to that, Williams also noted “There's also plenty of evidence [that] women who've had abortions aren't too sad about it either. Women, who unlike
But the article didn't portray
How Dare They!
In Touch's feature about the Palins was no more political than any other interview
Had those decisions been different, and Sarah and
Yet, when they chose to give life to their children and discuss that, they're looked upon as forcing their views on others.