Former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin missed a great opportunity to personally kick off an issue of enormous importance to her state and to the nation.
She was scheduled to appear with me at an Alaska Family Council event in Anchorage to launch Alaska's Parental Involvement Initiative, which will require parental notification of teenage girls under age 18 before they can get an abortion. But, the schedules of we mortals cannot retard the imperatives of history, so, despite Mrs. Palin's absence, we've gone to war with the army we have.
Currently 35 states have laws that require either parental consent or notification in order for a teenage girl to receive an abortion. Alaska passed one in 1997.
However, after ten years on the books, in 2007 the Alaska Supreme Court, arguing that sharing this information with parents violated the privacy of their teenage daughters, found the law unconstitutional. So now a 13 year old can get an abortion without the knowledge of her parents.
A large percentage of these abortions are paid for with state Medicaid funds, but no one seems to think that parents' privacy is being violated using their tax funds to pay for these.
Research shows the remedial benefits of parental involvement when a pregnant teenager considers abortion.
And research shows the profound psychological damage caused by teenage abortion. But, perhaps we should be wondering who we are today that we need to gather data to address an issue as intuitively obvious as whether a teenage girl may abort her child without her parents knowing.
Of course there are exceptional considerations, like abusive parents. But the Alaska initiative deals with this, as did a similar initiative in California, which was defeated last November.
No, this is not about being reasonable. It is about ideology. And what we have are opposing worldviews that cannot be reconciled. It's about choosing one or the other.
One view is secular, materialistic, and sees only individuals and the rights they claim.
The other view is about truths that precede individuals, and social realities of which individuals are a part, like family.
This contrast and conflict could not have been more clearly laid out than in an exchange at a congressional hearing last April between pro-life New Jersey congressman Chris Smith and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
Smith was questioning current Administration policies to promote abortion internationally. As part of his questioning, he waxed philosophic and asked Mrs. Clinton about her recent acceptance of Planned Parenthood's Margaret Sanger award. Sanger founded Planned Parenthood, the nation's largest abortion provider.
He pointed out to Mrs. Clinton that Sanger was a eugenicist and racist who said "The most merciful thing a family does for one of its infant members is to kill it."
The Secretary of State listened stoically and then replied: "We have a fundamental disagreement ...We happen to think that family planning is an important part of women's health, and reproductive health includes access to abortion."
A century and a half ago, a fundamental conflict in values in our nation came to a head. In one view, black African slaves were not human, so the question of slavery was about political, not moral, reality. The other view saw the slaves as human and slavery as a moral outrage. The conflict fomented at the nation's grass roots until it exploded in the national arena.
The parental involvement ballot initiative in Alaska is about Americans again grappling at our grass roots with crucial basic questions that divide us that must be resolved.
Are we a people that see the unborn, family, and individuals as all part of the fundamental fabric of life? Or are we a materialistic, secular nation of individuals making political claims on each other?