Commentary: Palin's appearance for nonpolitical anti-abortion group is troubling

Mary Sanchez is a columnist for the Kansas City Star.
Mary Sanchez is a columnist for the Kansas City Star. MCT

Sarah Palin recently accused the president of lacking a vital piece of male anatomy. That should qualify her as divisive.

Her comment about "cojones" was made in reference to Arizona's immigration issues.

Mama Grizzly knows how to raise blood pressures. So much so that Kansas City area priests are questioning her upcoming appearance for a Missouri-based anti-abortion organization. They aren't making much headway.

Big money must be raised and Palin is the ticket.

Palin will be keynote speaker at a fundraiser Sept. 13 in Kansas City for Vitae Caring Foundation, a nonprofit that for almost 20 years has distinguished itself by savvy, research-based advertising to dissuade women from seeking abortions.

Vitae touts its ability to address attitudes toward abortion "without politicizing them or radicalizing them." The organization has long distanced itself from the ugly, in-your-face use of photographed aborted fetuses favored by groups such as Operation Rescue.

So shouldn't how the money is raised to achieve such sane messaging be equally important? "Yes, but" is the reply.

"We have to look at what our mission is and what it is that we want to accomplish," said Carl Landwehr, president of Vitae. "I have to do what is going to generate the revenue to meet the purposes of Vitae."

Vitae's forte is television commercials, billboards and other campaigns in Kansas City, Dallas, New York and, increasingly, Los Angeles. It's expensive.

But as the Jefferson City-based Vitae has been drifting toward the Republican Party, some of its more liberal members rightfully argue that it is at risk of trouncing its own stated purpose of remaining nonpolitical.

Glenn Beck appeared for the foundation in March. Oliver North did a speech in Seattle. Palin is the final straw for some.

The Rev. Gerald Waris led off much of the discussion by writing a letter to Vitae announcing his deep regret in withdrawing support. Waris accused Vitae's board of becoming "more of a forum for the political right rather than for the life of the unborn child."

In letters and e-mails, local priests and other longtime supporters are joining him.

Landwehr says Palin's contract prohibits her from addressing politics.

And it must be acknowledged that Palin is the perfect anti-abortion spokesperson otherwise. Vitae would be hard-pressed to find someone with a more pertinent personal tale, including her own child with Down syndrome and daughter Bristol's far-too-public traumas as a teenage mother.

Landwehr said Vitae would gladly invite a high-profile Democrat, or a socially liberal celebrity willing to appear with an anti-abortion message. But they'd have to be able to bring in the big dollars.

Suggestions, anyone?

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