Gov. Sarah Palin
Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska is known for being attractive (a former pageant winner, she was featured in a Vogue photo shoot this year), forceful (her opponents have nicknamed her “Sarah Barracuda”) and a possible running mate for John McCain. Challenging circumstances now also have made her a shining example of personal pro-life convictions.
In December, her doctor told her that prenatal tests indicated the child she was expecting in May would be born with Down syndrome, a genetic condition that stems from an extra chromosome and that impedes a child’s physical, intellectual and language development.
Only one year into her governorship and with four children at home already, a child with Down syndrome would present serious challenges. Studies in the late 90s showed that more than 80 percent of prenatal Down syndrome diagnoses end in abortion.
Ending the pregnancy, however, was never an option for the Palins. On April 18, Sarah Palin gave birth to a 6-pound, 2-ounce son, Trig Paxson Van Palin.
“We’ve both been very vocal about being pro-life,” Palin told the Associated Press, speaking of herself and her husband, Todd. “We understand that every innocent life has wonderful potential.”
The day after the birth, the Palins released the following statement: “Trig is beautiful and already adored by us. We knew through early testing he would face special challenges, and we feel privileged that God would entrust us with this gift and allow us unspeakable joy as he entered our lives. We have faith that every baby is created for good purpose and has potential to make this world a better place. We are truly blessed.”
Wendy Wright, president of Concerned Women for America, commended Gov. Palin, telling WND that she “is even more beautiful inside than out. Her proud and warm announcement of the birth of their special child revealed the depth of love and faith of this extraordinary woman. May God give America more women and statesmen like her.”
Trig Paxson Van Palin gets his unusual name from a number of sources. Grandfather Chuck Heath told KTUU in Anchorage that Trig is named after his great uncle, a Bristol Bay fisherman, and Paxson comes from a well-known snowmachining area in Alaska.
The middle name Van, however, may have the most interesting origin. Gov. Palin joked with an Anchorage Daily News reporter that she and Todd have “always liked the middle name Van because, you know, growing up in the ’80s, Van Palin (which rhymes with rock band Van Halen) would be a really cool name.”
Three days after the birth, the governor brought baby Trig and husband Todd to her office in Anchorage. There seemed to be little slowdown for the governor who in her short tenure so far has line-item vetoed massive sections of the state budget, taken on her own party’s state chairman for ethics violations and fired the Alaska Board of Agriculture.
“It’s a sign of the times to be able to do this,” she told the Associated Press. “I can think of so many male candidates who watched families grow while they were in office. My baby will not be at all or in any sense neglected.”
Gov. Palin has some precedent to follow. U.S. Rep. Pete Sessions of Texas has a son with Down syndrome. U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, a Washington state Republican, is campaigning for her third term, even while she celebrates the fire birthday of her son Cole, also born the genetic anomaly.
“It’s in human nature to focus on the negative,” Rodgers said, “on what the person can’t do. In our mind, we are focused on what he can do, what he will be able to do and do very well.”
Gov. Palin has a similar outlook. In an e-mail she sent to relatives and friends the day of Trig’s birth, she wrote: “Many people will express sympathy, but you don’t want or need that, because Trig will be a joy…Children are the most precious and promising ingredient in this mixed-up world…Trig is no different, except he has one extra chromosome.”