Gov. Sarah Palin on Wednesday called an e-mail pitch in her name for Planned Parenthood that ran wild on the Internet during the presidential campaign "great theater." But she said it wouldn't change her view that "every life is precious."
Planned Parenthood wasn't behind the effort, but the e-mails asking for donations spread rapidly in September and October and ended up generating more than $1 million for the organization nationwide, said Clover Simon, Alaska vice president of Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest.
During a press conference Wednesday, the governor was asked about the push for donations "in honor of Sarah Palin" last fall. Palin, who strongly opposes abortion, was running for vice president on the Republican ticket. The matter had remained dormant since the heat of the campaign, but a television reporter brought it up again.
"I have boxes of thank-you notes from people associated with Planned Parenthood thanking me for the donations. Same with some anti-hunting groups, they're doing the same thing right now. It's political theater -- it's great theater I guess for some," Palin said.
"But on the issue of Planned Parenthood and abortion, at least Planned Parenthood, officials there and, I, we agree on a mission here that we'd like to see fewer and fewer abortions. And I, embracing the culture of life, have perhaps a different approach in how I would like to see that goal reached," Palin said.
The fast-spreading e-mail directed people to Planned Parenthood's Web site to donate in Palin's name, Simon said. The money went to the Planned Parenthood branch located in the same ZIP code as the giver. The Alaska branch took in about $5,000, Simon said. People who donated could then have the organization send Palin a card announcing it.
"The bottom line is the money is going to help woman access birth control, which is what we do. And I think the governor would agree with that. The money is certainly not going to support abortion services," Simon said.
During the campaign, Palin told CBS anchor Katie Couric that she was "all for contraception" and that she was "all for preventative measures that are legal and safe." But she said she opposed the morning-after pill because it could take effect after conception.
Planned Parenthood offers sex education and birth control, and also provides abortions.
In a written statement later on Wednesday, Palin further discussed the donations, against the backdrop of her position on abortion.
"The abortion issue has been with us for decades and has pitted well-meaning people of differing ideologies against each other. Where we can find common ground is in the belief that no one wants a single abortion," Palin said in the statement.
"But when there is a clash of values, I always will come down on the side of life. Making donations to Planned Parenthood in my name might be interesting theater in these politically charged times, but it is not going to change my views or the views of many other Alaskans who believe every life is precious."
Simon said Planned Parenthood in Alaska never wanted to take on Palin.
"Our goal is to hopefully work with the governor," Simon said. "We certainly don't want to have any sort of adversarial relationship with her."
Reporter Sean Cockerham contributed to this story. Find Lisa Demer online at adn.com/contact/ldemer or call 257-4390.