Jesurgislac’s Journal

August 31, 2008

Why wasn’t Trig born in Texas?

Sarah Palin: A dangerous and intelligent choice? Hm. Well. I’ve seen enough already to know that lots of supposedly-progressive people are going to attack her on sexist grounds – as one of Avedon Carol’s commenters notes:

A brilliant pick not because she’s going to win over all those Hillary voters but because she gives the Dems an opportunity to remind women that not everyone who hates us has a (R) after their name.

This is going to be so much fun – racism from the right, sexism from the left. America rocks!

Given there is enough to attack Palin on about issues that matter, it is – well, completely unsurprising after months of idiot sexist attacks on Hillary Clinton, that some are already choosing to attack her on issues such as “omg, mother of five! who’s going to stay home and look after her babies? what if she’s breastfeeding when America has a security issue?

But there is a legitimate question to be raised about Palin and her fifth child Trig.


The most colourful rumor circulating about Governor Palin is that she is not the mother of her 5th child: that Palin claimed young Trig was hers to avoid scandal or for some other reason. (There are extra-colourful add-ons to this rumor that I choose not to discuss, for what ought to be obvious reasons, and give warning in advance that I may delete or edit comments that try to discuss this aspect.) [Second update, 1st September: the “extra-colourful add-ons” were that Bristol Palin was Trig’s real mother in April, a hurtful rumour that has had to be debunked today by a formal announcement that Bristol is herself 5 months pregnant (New York Times) and that she’s planning to marry her boyfriend/her child’s father. The most disturbing thing about the rumours that were proliferating were not the comments about Bristol Palin’s personal appearance, creepy though those were, but the nastiness of including a minor child in this kind of gossip/speculation.]

Set that aside for the moment.

The governor, eight months into her pregnancy, noticed amniotic fluid Thursday morning prior to giving a keynote luncheon address at the Republican Governor’s Energy Conference in Texas. After wrapping up the speech, Palin and her husband consulted with her physician about possibly flying home on an earlier flight. After being granted permission from her doctor, she and her husband proceeded with the trek home.

At that point, Palin was only having minor contractions and was not showing signs of active labor, Sharon Leighow, the governor’s spokeswoman, said on Monday.

After the baby was born, Palin told her staff members that her experiences from four previous pregnancies made her comfortable with the signs of active labor. She felt that neither she nor her baby were in any danger, and so she flew home as scheduled. Newsminer, 22nd April 2008

As Snopes.com notes, most airlines have regulations against letting a pregnant woman fly late in pregnancy: a plane is not a good place to deliver an infant. Apparently Alaska Airlines does not regulate this.

According to Governor Palin’s own version of events, she knew Trig had Downs syndrome: presumably, the diagnosis had been made at about the usual time (15-22 weeks) since Palin had the choice of terminating the pregnancy and chose not to do so.

Governor Palin’s own account of going into labour is at least strikingly unusual, and yet when she felt herself going into labor, she did not go at once to the nearest hospital to ensure that the baby was delivered safely, as any doctor who was aware of her condition would have advised her to do, but boarded an 8-hour flight in the presumption that she would have time to reach a hospital in Alaska before she delivered.

Downs syndrome babies may be in need of immediate medical attention at birth if they are to survive. Most urgently, an echocardiogram needs to be performed – DS babies can have congenital heart disease. A complete blood count needs to be done as soon as possible – a DS fetus may have leukemia. (There are other tests, but none quite so urgent.) A DS baby needs to be born in hospital if at all possible, and one with the best possible pediatrics department.

It was perhaps unwise of Governor Palin to fly to Texas, eight months pregnant, but it was downright maniacally irresponsible of her to decide to fly back when she knew she was in labour. 

[Update, 3rd September: But, for an alternate POV, see Dutchmarbel’s comment, which she posted here following some dialogue between us at Obsidian Wings. In summary, Marbel disagrees with me that Palin was irresponsible, and she makes a good, sane, well-informed case for her disagreement.]

And I cannot believe – truly, honestly – that the physician she says she spoke to in Texas (her own physician? Did she speak to him over the phone? Did she go to a obstetrician in Texas?) would have okayed her flying back, while in early labour, when if she gave birth to Trig on the plane, there was a small but not miniscule chance that Trig would never have left the plane alive – and certainly, it would have been safer to stay in Texas, check into a hospital there, and give birth. (Even if her health insurance didn’t cover it: I believe it’s a rule that even US hospitals are required to treat pregnant women in labour.)

Whether or not Governor Palin faced that fact and decided to take the risk, I do not believe that a doctor wholly acquainted with the facts would have taken the risk.

Unless, of course, she wasn’t pregnant at all, and the news she got in Texas was that the real mother of Trig was going into labor.

What I wrote to Snopes.com:

Anyway, that’s what I have, and I would like to know, if Snopes can do it, if: these rumors were circulating back in June: if there’s any way it could be true that a doctor in Texas, knowing Governor Palin was pregnant and the soon-to-be-born baby had Downs syndrome, advised his patient it would be OK to travel back to Alaska – who was this doctor? Did Palin tell this Texas doctor the fetus had DS? How did Alaska Airlines feel about a woman who knew she was in labor boarding the plane?

The fact is: if the story published in Newsminer on 22nd April is correct, and it seems to be substantiated by Governor Palin’s staff, then there are two damaging possibilities: Palin isn’t the mother and flew back to Alaska not to give birth but to appear to have given birth: or Palin decided – either against the advice of her doctor, or without consulting her doctor – that she would take the risk of a Downs syndrome baby being born without medical attention.

===

Update, Monday 1st September:

Having thought about it overnight, I really don’t believe that Sarah Palin managed to stage a coverup and Trig is someone else’s baby – anyone else’s. It’s beyond belief that in a modern hospital, it could somehow be managed to have the state governor pretend to give birth as a coverup for someone else giving birth. It’s especially unbelievable – and quite out of order – to claim that “someone else” is Sarah Palin’s daughter.

No, the issue here is: Sarah Palin lied. I don’t believe – as she claims – she got a doctor’s okay to fly from Texas to Alaska after her waters broke.

And I’m not sure I believe she knew she had a Downs syndrome baby. If she did know, and had discussed it with her husband (he was with her in Texas) I find it beyond belief that she decided to risk her baby’s life by the chance she’d give birth on the plane – or that her husband didn’t talk her out of it.

At 44, Downs syndrome is a known risk: and I know two other women (Cherie Booth is one of them – the other is a personal friend) who, pregnant after 40, just consciously decided not to be tested for DS. They knew in advance they would not abort if that was the result: the test itself carries with it a small measure of risk/miscarriage: they just decided they’d accept it if that happened. Of course, both of them are pro-choice: to make that decision for yourself is the pro-choice option. But the confusion that pro-lifers perpetually push, between “pro-choice” and “pro-abortion”, obscures this: Sarah Palin chose for herself to bear each of her five children, and that is pro-choice. If Sarah Palin is pro-life, that means she wants to deny the choices she made to other women. And that – aside from whatever lies she told or risks she took this year – is why I would not support her as a politician, regardless of her office.

Obviously, the main reason for not supporting Sarah Palin for Vice President is that if she’s VP that means John McCain is President – and that’s going to be a disaster.

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15 Comments »

  1. Going back to the source, before it probably gets scrubbed.

    Palins’ child diagnosed with Down syndrome, Anchorage Daily News, 22nd April 2008

    [Jesurgislac writes: For crying out loud, “Hmm”, you cut-and-pasted an entire article into a comment, including the Yahoo and Digg tags! Don’t do that again. Quote from articles – short, single-paragraph quotes, with text to explain your quote. This kind of complete copy-and-paste is lazy. Do a little work if you want to make a point.

    To others; You should go read the article at the link: this is Palin’s official story of the birth.]

    Comment by Hmm — September 1, 2008 @ 9:34 pm | Reply

  2. DNA tests are needed. Yes, needed. If this person becomes VP of the USA the people have a right to know if she has a history of mendacity and duplicitous behaviour. IMHO, unless proven otherwise, Bristol is the mother of Trig and is pregnant with her second child. There is enough leeway in the timelines of both Trig’s birth and the new pregnancy to leave room for Bristol to be the mother of both children. A 17 year old could have one child easily get pregnant a second time within 6 weeks of the first birth. Why do it? Because your self-involved holier-than-thou Mom took away your first baby. DNA tests are needed.

    Comment by Marguerite — September 2, 2008 @ 12:17 am | Reply

  3. [Deleted link to image]

    If nothing at all she is guilty of very poor and reckless judgement; as is McCain and Bush…

    Comment by Jon Abraham — September 2, 2008 @ 2:32 am | Reply

  4. Marguerite: First, last, and only warning – no more speculation about the behavior of Sarah Palin’s other children. Governor Palin is a public figure, her children are not.

    If the question is: is Governor Palin really not the mother of Trig – then the first step is not DNA tests, it’s some investigatory questions at the hospital where he was born. If the staff confirm Palin arrived pregnant and gave birth, demands for DNA testing constitute unjustifiable invasion of privacy. I think if you consider it, it’s fairly improbable that a public figure like Palin could manage to get multiple doctors, nurses, and other medical and non-medical staff to keep quiet that she didn’t give birth. And we will leave her other children out of it.

    Jon: If nothing at all she is guilty of very poor and reckless judgement; as is McCain and Bush…

    Agreed to that. I liked the flow chart you linked to – right up to the last conclusion. Someone should redo it with a different conclusion – the last “line” spoils it all.

    Comment by jesurgislac — September 2, 2008 @ 7:14 am | Reply

  5. look up alaska airlines schedule from dallas where gov conf was held to anchorage there are no non-stop flights. alaska stops in seattle before continuing to alaska. some flights are 13 hous flight time due to stop in seattle. makes no sense to take a risk with your unborn child.

    Comment by jack — September 3, 2008 @ 5:06 am | Reply

  6. H Saive, your comment has been deleted.

    “(There are extra-colourful add-ons to this rumor that I choose not to discuss, for what ought to be obvious reasons, and give warning in advance that I may delete or edit comments that try to discuss this aspect.)”

    Comment by jesurgislac — September 3, 2008 @ 12:01 pm | Reply

  7. The link to Jack’s chart is deleted???

    As requested a summary of my comments on Obsidian Wings:

    Sarah Palin had given birth 4 times before, so she ought to be well aware of how it all works for her. I am only aware of what is normal for the Dutch, but since our infant mortality is less than the American figure I’ll assume our rules can’t be that bad.

    She spotted amniotic fluid, but that is not the same as what most people understand as ‘her water broke’. If her water had really broken, people would have noticed. Not just because of the immediate effect (loosing a hugh amount of fluid creates patches), but since you produce fluid all the time you’d keep on leaking. As if your blatter suddenly wouldn’t have a closing mechanism anymore. My health insurer gave me a pregnancy packege towards the end of the pregnancy, containing a.o. special absorbant plastic lined towels. I was quite happy I had those when my water broke. But friends of mine have had days of treackle, loosing a bit of fluid but within the limits of an incontinence pad for women.
    People don’t always realize that amniotic fluid is produced during pregnancy, it is not a static amount. So if you leak a bit you don’t get less fluid.
    The main danger is that you suddenly have an opening to the outside world, so there is more risc of infection. Which is why they will monitor carefully for signs of infection and if you are allready close to full-term they will induce labour 24 hours ( used to be 48, might be less in the US due to blame/claims) after the breach.

    Towards the end of the pregnancy women also frequently have ‘false labour’, or, as we call it in the Netherlands, practice contractions. Which is why we only say that you are in labour after you have regular contractions. We have to contact the hospital/midwife when we have them at least once every 5 minutes. She said that she had a few, but that it slowed down to 1 or 2 per hour.

    She appearantly trickled amniotic fluid and had the occasional mild contraction. She conferred with her doctor, had had 4 previous childbirth (so knew her body) and felt that birth would not be imminent. She arrived home on thursday and had to be induced on friday (probably because of danger for infection) in order to give birth.

    You mention the special riscs for a DS baby. Though I agree that they are more vulnerable and they can have severe handicaps, most of the imminent dangers are visible on an ulstrasound (hole in the heart, guts not attached, etc.). If those are not noticable birth is not a higher risc. Most test have to happen somewhere in the first month (ultrasound for heart, etc.), not the first hour.

    I don’t know about leukemia. DS kids might well have a higher risc. But I seriously doubt you can detect that in the first few days, since they are flooded with bloodcells from the mother via the umbilical cord. It takes a few days for their liver to clear the body of ‘alien’ bloodcells.
    Part of the heart defects (hole in the heart) heal in the first days too. We had a discussion about the timing of the heart ultrasound because of that (why worry parents overly much) but decided to do them all in the first month, to be as save as can be. (In the Netherlands you have hospitals with Downs teams, specialized in Downs kids. pediatricians,speech therapists, physiotherapists).

    So i think judging the risc was up to her, not up to us. And appearantly she was completely right.

    Comment by dutchmarbel — September 3, 2008 @ 2:24 pm | Reply

  8. It’s just HINKY, as the law enforcement people say. Just not right. The whole story doesn’t ring true, and *something* is being left out.

    I hope the people who are in a position to do so, are investigating thoroughly.

    Comment by DaisyDeadhead — September 3, 2008 @ 4:38 pm | Reply

  9. Marbel: The link to Jack’s chart is deleted???

    Yeah. I decided that I really was sick of “jokes” involving intimate details of either Sarah or Bristol Palin’s body, and I wasn’t going to let them stay in the comments even as a link.

    Daisy: It’s just HINKY, as the law enforcement people say. Just not right. The whole story doesn’t ring true, and *something* is being left out.

    Well, yeah… but I find all speculations relating to Bristol Palin, who didn’t ask for any of this. Sarah Palin: public figure. Trig Palin: too young to care. Other Palin children: offlimits, just as Chelsea Clinton should have been.

    Comment by jesurgislac — September 3, 2008 @ 4:55 pm | Reply

  10. It was undoubtedly risky behaviour by her, but so what? Since you believe that the fetus is not a person before birth (I’m not trying to get into an argument about this, but I’ve always gathered this is what you believe), the only person she was potentially imperiling was herself. As an adult she has a right to do that, just as she has a right to go bungee jumping or hunt bears or eat pretzels or any other dangerous activity she might choose. It would have inconvenienced the passengers and staff on the flight if there’d been a problem, but it wouldn’t have seriously endangered or harmed them and we don’t prevent people climbing mountains just because they might need rescuing.

    There are also problems in arguing that reckless personal behaviour shows you lack judgement for political office: whatever else you may say about Bill Clinton, his personal behaviour was certainly reckless in the extreme, but his political judgement wasn’t too bad (similarly for Lloyd George).

    Comment by magistra — September 4, 2008 @ 8:29 pm | Reply

  11. Magistra: Since you believe that the fetus is not a person before birth (I’m not trying to get into an argument about this, but I’ve always gathered this is what you believe)

    Incorrectly. It’s what people keep telling me I must believe, since I do believe that the pregnant woman is the only one who gets to make the decisions – right up to birth. Not, as it happens, because I have any definite feelings about when, during a pregnancy, a fetus becomes a person: but because I am in no doubt that the pregnant woman as a person.)

    It was undoubtedly risky behaviour by her, but so what?

    That was my point – it was undoubtedly risky, inconsiderate behavior by her. (So risky that for 12 hours or so I was thinking there must be something in the initial story, given that she appeared to accomplish nothing by getting on the 8 hour flight.) But, her body, her choice. That’s what I believe. This doesn’t prevent me from commenting on how risky and inconsiderate her behaviour was.

    But Sarah Palin claims not to believe in choice. Not for other people. Possibly for her daughter, definitely for herself: but noth

    There are also problems in arguing that reckless personal behaviour shows you lack judgement for political office

    Oh, absolutely. A person may be a steel-sharp stone-hard political operative, able to calculate exactly the risks and benefits for five thousand or five million – and yet be quite incapable of reasoning from A to B in their personal relationships. Of course, it appears that Sarah Palin is not a steel-sharp stone-hard political operative….

    Comment by jesurgislac — September 5, 2008 @ 12:07 am | Reply

  12. You’re quite entitled to point out that it’s risky behaviour by her. But if you do that, and you don’t think it’s relevant to her political judgement, why is it not sexist to mention the issue at all? You seemed to be arguing at ObWi when discussing Palin and a parent’s responsibilities that it was sexist for someone to criticise an actual woman’s decisions even if the same person would also condemn a hypothetical man in a similar situation. You were only non-sexist if you had also criticised actual men as parents (even if the situation was not very similar).

    Why is it then OK to criticise Palin for taking physical risks, when you haven’t criticised Obama, Biden or McCain for doing so? Because there are also double standards on risk taking, it can be argued (as gets pointed out about the outcry when female mountaineers with families get themselves killed).

    Comment by magistra — September 5, 2008 @ 10:44 am | Reply

  13. Magistra: You’re quite entitled to point out that it’s risky behaviour by her. But if you do that, and you don’t think it’s relevant to her political judgement, why is it not sexist to mention the issue at all?

    Perhaps it is sexist to mention the issue: a man couldn’t be in this particular position. (I’ve heard it said that it was her husband who was all-fired anxious to get back to Alaska – that the issue was making sure that their child would be a native-born Alaskan. But I haven’t seen a cite quoting either one of them on that.)

    It does relate to her politics, though. I support the right of a woman to make her own decisions throughout pregnancy: Sarah Palin thinks that no woman should be allowed to make decisions. She’s said that she supports forced pregnancy. Yet, in her personal life, rather than put the welfare of the fetus she was carrying first – something she thinks other women should be made to do – she exercised her right to choose and got on a plane to fly from Texas to Alaska.

    You seemed to be arguing at ObWi when discussing Palin and a parent’s responsibilities that it was sexist for someone to criticise an actual woman’s decisions even if the same person would also condemn a hypothetical man in a similar situation. ….. Why is it then OK to criticise Palin for taking physical risks, when you haven’t criticised Obama, Biden or McCain for doing so?

    See above. When a pro-lifer asserts their right to make their own decisions, it has to be asked why they’re unwilling to let others do the same.

    I might note, too, that my point on Obsidian Wings was with regard to childcare and the responsibilities of a parent conflicting with a job: if a parent can’t be expected to cope with being Vice President or President, that applies equally to a mother or a father. It is frequently claimed by people who say things like that about women with children who take on demanding jobs, that they would say the same thing about a man in the same position: except, as it happens, they never do.

    Comment by jesurgislac — September 5, 2008 @ 1:50 pm | Reply

  14. I see what you’re getting at now, but I don’t think in this case, the charge of hypocrisy really holds. Sarah Palin made a choice that potentially might have caused the death of her fetus. She wants to prevent other women making choices that will definitely cause the death of their fetuses. That is obnoxious, but not hypocritical. It would only have been hypocritical if she had done something that was very likely to cause the death of the fetus/baby (like going off into an inaccessible log cabin in Alaska to have her premature labour).

    Her decision certainly wasn’t as risky as that, but it’s very hard to say quantitatively how risky it was. I wouldn’t have done it myself, but I am naturally cautious, and almost all politicians are risk-takers by definition. How risky it appears also depends on the culture’s attititude to childbirth. Dutchmarbel is coming from a Durch culture where homebirths and non-medicalised childbirth are the norm. In the US, where childbirth is even more medicalised than the UK, I think a lot of women are going to think that it was stupid to take an unnecessary risk like that.

    Comment by magistra — September 6, 2008 @ 3:36 pm | Reply

  15. The amnionic sac EITHER has a leak, or it DOESN’T.

    Once ruptured (small or large) — you are in labor. Doesn’t matter if it’s a trickle or a waterfall.

    No sane woman would do what Palin did …

    In the USA, where Obstetrics is the most expensive specialty in terms of Malpractice Ins .. NO DOCTOR would be negligent enough to allow her patient to start a long trip (2 flights/1 hr drive in middle of night) WITHOUT seeing a DR in Texas.

    Somebody is lying here, OR insanely reckless.

    Comment by Archivist1000 — April 19, 2011 @ 12:09 am | Reply


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