Where Is Palin on Women's Health Issues?

Last night's debate unfortunately didn't make things any clearer.

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In watching the vice presidential debate last night, I kept waiting for this question that never came: Governor Palin, would a McCain-Palin administration make efforts to limit a women's access to abortion and emergency contraception? A lot of other women, I'm sure, are wondering the same thing. We've already heard Palin's personal views on abortion and the morning after pill; as she told Katie Couric, she's against them because she firmly believes that life begins at conception. I do admire her for living by her beliefs, choosing to carry and raise a child with Down syndrome.

But I'd really like to know more about any plans to implement these personal views. Palin also told Couric, when asked if it should be illegal for a girl who was raped to get an abortion: "If you're asking, though, kind of foundationally here, should anyone end up in jail for having an...abortion, absolutely not. That's nothing I would ever support." So, does Palin think abortion should be a legal right or not? I'm still uncertain.

Much has been made, too, of another women's health issue concerning Palin: A law in Wasilla, Alaska, that required rape victims to pay for the "rape kit" used to collect forensic evidence, on the books when Palin was mayor there. In this written response she provided this week to an Alaska newspaper, Palin didn't explain why the law was still in effect under her watch—it was overturned by state legislation before she became governor—though she did, at least, clearly state her views on this in the following statement:

"The entire notion of making a victim of a crime pay for anything is crazy. I do not believe, nor have I ever believed, that rape victims should have to pay for an evidence-gathering test. As governor, I worked in a variety of ways to tackle the problem of sexual assault and rape, including making domestic violence a priority of my administration."

That's the sort of "straight talk" I'd like to hear from her on other issues. For instance, where does she stand on the proposed government rule that could limit your access to contraception and infertility services? (For more on this, see my previous post.) She says she believes there's an inherent right to privacy in the Constitution, a right that was first upheld when the Supreme Court ruled in 1965 that states couldn't ban contraceptives. But, I'm not sure how her libertarian views jibe with her abhorrence of anything—be it IUD or morning after pill—that would cause the destruction of a fertilized egg.

In this blog posted yesterday in the Huffington Post, Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood, offered up some great questions that could have been posed to Palin last night. I only wish moderator Gwen Ifill had asked them.