A defense of Sarah Palin! (ok, and then a criticism)

I've been meaning to respond to this Andrew Sullivan reader, who said:
I’m sorry but every time I see a picture of Trig on the book tour I cringe. As the mother of a Special Needs child, I know that Trig should be home getting intensive speech, physical and occupational therapy at this point in his young life. He shouldn’t be used as his mother’s prop to boost her favorability with a certain segment of voters who appreciate that she didn’t abort him.

Sarah Palin is potentially setting her child’s potential progress back by years. Any parent of a Special Needs child can vouch that early, intensive therapies are key to future development. Every time I see her with him on her hip, instead of with a speech or other therapist, I keep wondering what she’s thinking.
I, too, will write as the mother of a special needs child. And I want to tell this other mom: stop the criticism. You have no idea what accommodations Sarah Palin has made for this child. Perhaps he is receiving therapies on the road. You have no idea what decisions were made regarding his care, why they were made, and what factors were weighed. You have no idea what his needs are - different special needs kids have different needs. Only Sarah and Todd Palin could make that decision. As long as she is not clearly harming him -- everyone, back off. I'm sick to death of people (including other parents of special needs kids) telling parents of special needs kids exactly what their priorities should be. People making decisions in good faith about such things can come to different conclusions about how the child should be raised.

OK. Now on to the criticism. There is something distasteful about the way she is holding up her kid as a badge of moral honor. First of all, it is using her child as a means to a self-promoting end. Second of all, he cannot consent to becoming a public figure, and there is potential harm in becoming a public figure. Third of all, Sarah Palin might well have made the right moral decision not to have an abortion. For the record, I tend to think she did. But that's not absolutely clear. Plenty of very good people make a good faith decision to abort a baby with a genetic disorder. Again, that is a difficult decision that requires the person who is undergoing it to weigh many many factors that are not available to outsiders. It is hubris to repeatedly publicly congratulate oneself for making such a decision, and disrespectful to those who made good faith decisions in the other direction.

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