Palin to headline abortion notification event. Or will she?
Tonight's the kickoff for a new Alaska ballot initiative calling for parents to be notified if their child is getting an abortion. Former Gov. Sarah Palin is the headliner, according to the website of the Alaska Family Council, which is helping spearhead the campaign.
Or maybe not. In their latest case of mystery scheduling, Palin's people let it be known that Palin wasn't in Alaska and wasn't going to make it. Where is she? Not clear. Why is she canceling? Unknown. Is she for sure canceling? Ask on -- we don't know.
"We're counting on her," Jim Minnery, president of the Alaska Family Council, told us this morning, shortly after the Anchorage Daily News reported Palin had backed out as headliner. The event is also to feature national antiabortion advocate Star Parker.
"Apparently, there's some word out that there's an unforeseen event that's come up and she may not be able to be there. Of course, that would be a big disappointment for us, and if Gov. Palin is not able to attend, we're sorry. But the focus right now is on the initiative, and to ensure that we get the minimal amount of signatures on the petition."
Palin's spokeswoman, Meghan Stapleton, as a rule doesn't return our calls, e-mails or text messages. But she told the Daily News that Palin was outside Alaska and wouldn't attend. In fact, "this is the first we have ever heard of a speech," she said. This, despite the fact that Palin's photo is displayed prominently on the family council's promotional announcement with the headline, "Former Gov. Palin & Star Parker to Kick Off Campaign."
As the fog of confusion settled in, Alaskans for Parental Rights, the event's organizer, put out a statement insisting there had been no mystery before.
"We have been in regular communications with the Governor’s staff over the last several weeks. We were assured that Governor Palin was personally aware of this evening’s event, and that she twice confirmed her intent to participate," it said.
"We look forward to Governor Palin honoring her commitment to attend, and we appreciate her public support of our effort to pass this important voter initiative to protect the rights of parents and the health of teenage girls."
The organizers hope to collect 32,734 signatures to get the parental notification measure on the next statewide election ballot in August 2010. It would partly restore a 1997 parental consent law struck down by the Alaska Supreme Court.
Minnery says they're saving a place for Palin's name at the top of the first petition, even if she's not technically around to put it there herself at the moment. "It sounds like something may have come up for her, but to us it's a secondary issue," he said. "We'll work with her wherever and whenever we can."
Photo: Former Gov. Sarah Palin at her resignation picnic in Fairbanks, Alaska, in July. Credit: Associated Press.