Yes, It Matters…Bristol Palin’s Pregnancy

02Sep08

While I was freaking out over the closing of the FIFA transfer window (a matter which cannot be discussed, as a proper entry on the matter would get me arrested if I went to England and came within 100 yards of Peter Kenyon), the rest of the media was freaking out about Sarah Palin’s pregnant 17 year old. The story has raised  questions about journalistic ethics, and Republicans are calling any discussion of this story out of bounds. There’s rightly some concern, but this story does matter to a large extent, and it should be reported. Here’s why:

1. Where is Palin’s head?

She has a young child with Down syndrome, and now she’s going to be a grandmother. Her daughter is 17–a matter we will get into later–but if nothing else, does her daughter not need Gov. Palin to help her with that child?

2. Abstinence only education

She supports it, which I’m assuming meant she preached it in her house. And look what happened. Even if abstinence only were remotely successful, which it isn’t, what kind of position does this put the Republican party and Palin to discuss it from? “My daughter didn’t know how to not get pregnant, and by the way, she’s not married. But if all of your kids just wait til marriage or some other undefined point, it’ll be fine. Especially if your kid is gay, because then he/she will never have sex. Eww, gross.”

This situation and birth control issues are ripe for humor, but the reality is, it affects every one of us.  1 in 3 children are born to parents under 20. Most of these children are not as successful as those raised in stable households. Unplanned and unwanted children are more likely to commit crimes–in Freakonomics, it is strongly considered that the legalization of abortion dramatically reduced crime. Now, I doubt Bristol Palin’s kid will be a criminal (though if you think about it, most children of politicians get in trouble for something), but again, it gives Palin no ground to stand on on the issue of sex education.

3. John Edwards

Ethics came up in the Edwards story as well. Was it right to print a story that could have potentially ruined the marriage and crushed the spirit of a dying cancer patient activist? A story that would ruin the career of a man who, while it looked clear didn’t have a future in politics, was a leading voice on poverty? Apparently it was.

So, the question in this case: is it fair to bring extreme exposure and criticism to a minor, who is above the age of consent in some US states (somehow the age of consent in Alaska is never something I’ve had to know, so I can’t confirm what the age is in Alaska. And at work, it’s not something I’m googling) and made the irresponsible decision to have unprotected sex before marriage? And by the way, her mother just happens to be vehemently pro-life and the VP candidate for a party which has done everything possible to try to take away reproduction rights and enforce Christian doctrine on the country.

We know very well what the Republicans would be doing if things were the other way around; this would be another moral failing of Democratic family values. Obama has told people to back off, even invoking a comparison between his mother and Bristol Palin. I believe Obama believes what he says, and this is more than just good strategy (which it may or may not be).

To me, this one counts. It may not be fair to blame Sarah for Bristol getting pregnant, but there does seem to be a sociological trend that extreme Christian parents tend to produce kids who don’t realize how dangerous their behavior can be. They don’t realize fully how much of a burden a child is; that a child is NOT always a gift from an invisible man in the sky. Not everything happens according to some divine plan. I believe Sarah Palin should absolutely be asked if she could have done more to properly educate her daughter, and if in retrospect she would have provided her daughter with birth control.  I believe we should see the reality of this situation contrasted against the fantasy of GOP family values.

Let me say, I hope Palin does come to some sort of change of heart on women’s and reproductive issues as a result of this occurence. I feel bad for Bristol as well, as yes, most teen pregnancies don’t get this much attention and I’m sure the experience is challenging enough as it is. Still, her mother’s party just sees this issue as one of “personal resposibility” (that’s what they say, but they still restrict access to birth control, which violates their free market principles too). If her daughter believes the same way, then surely she can be resposible enough to be the most famous pregnant teen since Jamie Lynn Spears. And they said Obama is like Britney.

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4 Responses to “Yes, It Matters…Bristol Palin’s Pregnancy”

  1. 1 WhyME

    I have only this comment:

    …”but there does seem to be a sociological trend that extreme Christian parents tend to produce kids who don’t realize how dangerous their behavior can be.”…

    FACT: According to the CDC 1/3 of american women become pregnant before their 20th birthday. I am so sure that the majority were christians.

    BTW my parents provided me with birth control and the message to wait until I was married to have sex…guess what I was a teen mother and now almost 12 years later I am glad that my parents educated me that abortion was wrong…it saved my daughter’s life.

    Teens do what they want. ALL TEENS.

  2. 2 poliology

    Uh, yeah, the majority were christians. look at this country, and by the way, look at where many teen pregnancies occur. The south is blood red

    Abortion is not wrong, nor is it murder.

  3. 3 jeffn

    it wasn’t your daughter, it was a clump of cells that could become a daughter in the right circumstances.

    by your logic, it’s kind of like every sperm is sacred since every one is my child.

  4. 1) As some time has passed since the writing of Freakonomics the world has been able to analyse further the correlations claimed by its authors. The abortion-crime link has been thoroughly debunked. While there is correlation between the two there is no causation.

    2) I’m profoundly atheist but also very pro-life. When considering the vexed question of when life starts I think that the most compelling answer is that as soon as an egg is fertilised a new life with the unique DNA that identifies each human being is formed.


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