Tuesday, September 02, 2008



In all honesty, this story has been handled relatively delicately, I think. The words "Bristol Palin clearly had to have UNPROTECTED SEX for this to happen" haven't really been said.

But they sure should be. I'm annoyed at the way the Republican camp is treating this: Miss Palin's pregnancy "happened". It "occured". What is this, the Immaculate Failure of Abstinence-Only Education? Yeah, yeah, I get that there is this hands-off policy when it comes to the children of candidates, but this only serves to give more protection to a candidate's daughter than Mary Sue down-the-street would have. If I had gotten pregnant at seventeen, EVERYONE would have talked about it. Instead, we're not allowed to talk about it because Bristol Palin's mother happens to be the vice-presidential candidate? Really?

And what about her age? The young woman--emphasis on the woman--is seventeen. She's old enough to join the armed services. She's an adult, for all intents and purposes. The age of consent in Alaska is 16, and she is certainly over that. And on a related note, the phrase "teen pregnancy" really bothers me. Although I don't recommend the procedure, plenty of girls get married at 18 and get pregnant. Do their pregnancies count as teen pregnancies? No, of course not, because they're MARRIED.


Even with this hands-off policy in place, we--the public, and the reporters--should certainly be allowed to make Miss Palin's unplanned, out-of-wedlock, teen pregnancy an issue. Much like famously anti-gay-rights Republicans who have been discovered in sleazy hotel rooms with their same-sex hookers and sandy piles of meth, the Republican party's very emphasis on "family values" makes this story actual news and not titillating gossip about teen girls and sex. Miss Palin has decided to carry the baby to term, fine, and she is marrying the father. If she was Mary Sue Down-the-street, she might have decided to have an abortion--she doesn't need her mom's consent in Alaska. But of course, since she is the daughter of a strongly pro-life Republican Vice-Presidential Candidate, she can't possibly get one. Her life has been decided for her. A theme with her, since I'm sure she was given zero options about how to prevent herself from getting pregnant, either, except for abstinence, and between a randy boyfriend and abstinence, guess who won?

More information:

Palin Rebuts Rumors

Palin's Daughter's Pregnancy Stirs Strong Emotions

A Private Matter

A Story Palin Should Tell (I was especially surprised at the ignorance and hatred mentioned in this one.)

A Typical Middle-Class Struggle
(Except that the Palin's aren't so middle-class, certainly not the middle-class that I think of. Not the two-car, small house in a small-town middle class. They have resources. Mary Sue Down-the-street--who is quickly becoming my best friend--wouldn't have near as many resources to raise this extra mouth to feed. It's sure nice of this blogger to graciously include REAL middle-classers in the "struggles" of the Palins, though.)

The Palin Pregnancy and the Party Platform.


MC said...

Just wanted to point out that Sarah Palin is listed in many places as being pro-contraception. Therefore, the thought that her daughter's only choice for birth control was abstinence would be untrue if her beliefs for her family are the same as her beliefs for the nation.

Aarwenn said...

Hi MC,

I've seen that rumor too, but here is the only direct quote from Sarah Palin I could find, from an Alaska Gubernatorial Questionaire, in 2006:

Q: Will you support funding for abstinence-until-marriage education instead of for explicit sex-education programs, school-based clinics, and the distribution of contraceptives in schools?

A: Yes, the explicit sex-ed programs will not find my support.


C said...

I personally disagree that it should be an issue. Sarah Palin is not the one who's pregnant, and thus should not be held responsible for a decision her daughter made, a daughter who, as you pointed out, is above the age of consent in the state of Alaska. I just think it's poor form, regardless of Palin's stance on "family values" issues.

By the way, after the age of, what is it, 13? 14?, you do not have to tell you parents about medications you may have been prescribed--including birth control--unless you WANT to.

Aarwenn said...

Hi C,

Perhaps it is poor form. On the one hand, if Miss Palin is an adult, then she shouldn't fall under the "protect the children" clause; on the other hand, she really is a child--even I am not so cold-hearted as to ignore this. She is only 17. I was CERTAINLY a child at 17, part of the reason why I was not having sex. But I digress.

After all, there's really no age limit on the "protect the children" clause. Mary Cheney's lifestyle has barely been explored by the media, and she is 39, so citing Miss Palin's age is hardly an excuse. And yet I've hardly explored the issue of Mary Cheney at all. Perhaps, like all the rest of the world, I was titillated by the teen-sex angle. Sigh.

On a wider note, I'd say that "Family Values" is the Republican's double-edged sword, much like "Tolerance" is for the Democratic party. (Sorry I'm mixing up the direct objects, but you know what I mean.) The Republicans preach "Family Values" and are then attacked every time they don't display them, where as Democrats preach "Tolerance" and are attacked every time they show no tolerance for, say, eating fast good, or buying from Walmart.

(Can you find me the source to which you are referring, about prescription medications?)

One more note: I'm surprised how angry I am about both this issue and the issue of Mary Cheney, her long-term relationship with her girlfriend, their pregnancy, and this quote: "During Mary Cheney's May 19, 2006 appearance on The Late Show with David Letterman, Letterman addressed some of the issues raised by the gay community. He questioned Cheney on why she waited two years after the 2004 election to speak publicly about gay marriage and rights. He also asked whether she had any input on her father's administration regarding gay issues. Cheney responded that she did not, and that it is not her job to do so.[15]"

I am so frustrated by people whose personal lives don't match their politics. How CAN you work for a party that stomps all over gay marriage rights when you yourself are gay? How CAN you get so involved with your campaign that your daughter's love life and love education falls by the wayside when you preach family values? But I suppose this is my own personal bias, because after all, I should be more tolerant. The examples I've cited have chosen to keep their private and political lives separate, and I have to respect this decision; it's obviously more than I'm capable of.

That last statement reads sort of sarcastic to me. I didn't mean it as such. I really am (apparently) incapable of keeping my private and political ideas separate; and this is a famously Democrat trait, which tends to make us insufferable in public. And Republicans clearly are capable, which is why they threw--and still throw--the best parties on the Hill. They are social and gracious and don't feel the need to argue about how local the oysters are.

C said...

I don't have a link to the medical privacy issues, but I can tell you that I worked in an office compliant with HIPAA regulations. At the age of 13, minors had to sign a release form saying that we could give ANY information to their parents (or anyone else) if [the minor] so desired. Otherwise, we were not allowed to talk to the parent(s). I assume this is industry-wide.

Re: Palin's daughter... I guess it just seems like a double standard when the child of one candidate is off-limits and the child of another is not. I did not share my parents' political views, and I don't expect that Palin's daughter should under all circumstances agree with her mother's.

JJ said...

Your thoughts really helped me organize my thoughts on this issue.

I think the problem I have with this entire issue is that Palin's daughter is getting married at 17. She obviously jumped into this pregnancy thing a little earlier than expected, but I don't see how getting married will fix anything.

I'm not saying that getting married at that age isn't right, but I'd have to ask anyone in that position why they were in such a rush.

I can't discount your point on the pressure on this girl to not get an abortion, but I think the pressure to get married because of her parents is even greater. After all, the excuse you hear from the Republican party is that all is fine because she is getting married. As if getting married will fix things and put this issue to rest.

I have a friend who got a girl pregnant around the same time in life. She choose to have the kid, but they both decided to give the relationship a few years before getting married. They eventually did get married, but I always thought that it was a smarter move than just trying correct a mistake with another huge life-changing decision.

l-t said...

Wait wait...if you had become pregnant, EVERYONE would have talked about it? As in, the WHOLE COUNTRY? I think not. Your

family, your friends. Not the WHOLE country. Guess what? Most of them wouldn't care, so why should we care about this young

adult's decisions?

Seventeen is NOT old enough to join the armed services without consent from your parents. It's a contractual obligation, which

requires you to be 18. However, seventeen IS old enough to drive, and get a job, and therefore, get to Sleezy Motel 7 downtown with your boyfriend.

This is a case of a rebellious teenager, not bad family values. You know what that's all about, right? When you do something

your parents don't want you to do? When you do something contrary to their values? Regardless of how hard they try to

disuade, impede, and prevent you, you sometimes STILL do it, even though it's a boneheaded decision.

Had this been the VP [i]CANDIDATE'S[/i] out of wedlock pregnancy, by all means, put the hammer down. If it had been her sexual

interlude with an INTERN, please, let's talk turkey. But her daughter, who may or may not even be living at HOME? Yeah, it's

wrong, but what would Mrs. Palin do? Lock her in her bedroom? Then we'd be talking about child abuse.

The fact that anti-gay Republicans are found high as kites and doin' the dirty with a same-sex hooker is not truly relevant,

although it is morally repugnant and hypocritical. "Get a rope," and hang their political career from the highest branch. If

you're gay, and can't admit it to yourself, your family, let ALONE your country or constituents, you deserve what you get.

Lets be adults and find a job that you can do honestly and truthfully.

As for your statement that because she's the daughter of a VP candidate, she "can't possibly get [an abortion]," that's an

assumption. There is no proof that this young ADULT didn't have the option; it's STILL legal in Alaska, as far as I know. Or

so says the Supreme Court. Parents be damned, she can do it if she wishes. Maybe Bristol's even pro-choice; who knows? Her

parents could pressure her, much like they PROBABLY did about getting pregnant in the first place, but it's eventually HER


She had no choice on whether to get pregnant? Is that really what you're saying? "I'm sure she was given zero options about

how to PREVENT herself from getting pregnant..." For real? I mean, I guess you could say it's not HER fault she's

pregnant...but last time I checked, there was no rape charge, and she's marrying the father, whether she loves him or not, and

her PARENTS certainly didn't force her to have sex. Nope, sounds like a failure of personal accountability to me. Maybe she's

having another failure of responsibility in having the child as well, but still, that's HER CHOICE. Maybe getting married is yet another failure; who knows? We don't have an inside line into their relationship; I've known two women who got married after accidentally getting pregnant (one 24, one 18). Her parents don't come into it; you knew at 17 how babies were made, right? Guess what! I bet she did too! And if she wasn't smart enough to avoid it, through contraceptives or through obstinance, she gets whatever the results are (whether it's a "punishment" as Obama is quoted as saying or not).

You quote Palin as saying she support abstinence based sex education; look at how the question was phrased: "Will you support funding for abstinence-until-marriage education instead of for explicit sex-education programs, school-based clinics, and the distribution of contraceptives in schools?" Well, if those are her only obtions, most conservatives (most mothers?) would choose abstinence education. Realistic? No...but neither is the liberal version of sex education. Condoms are expensive, girls might be too ashamed/timid to go get condoms from their guidance councilor, and guess what? Boys are PUSHY and DEMANDING, and they often don't listen or understand when girls tell them their feelings and needs, especially when you're talking about sex. (Right?) There are too many girls who are going to believe their boyfriends, "Oh, I can control myself, I'll be careful." Right. A seventeen year old boy has that kind of restraint? That's why we should sell them all ridiculously fast cars and motorcycles--because they're known for their PERSONAL RESTRAINT and RESPONSIBILITY. No, I say; most realists would say BOTH types of education are best, but if you have to choose one, go for abstinence. At least then an accident or inattention won't result in a life-changing (and, according to some, life destroying) event.

As for Mary Cheney, I admittedly don't know much about it, but from what I've read on Wiki, it sounds like Mary Cheney has chosen to ignore an issue that she disagrees with the party about in order to work for many OTHER issues she feels strongly about. I think Newt Gingrich said it best the other day: the ability to step over one barrier to come to terms on several others is VITAL to "bipartisanship." That's what it will take to bring about the CHANGE that is on so many lips these days.

Uncommon Cents has the Gingrich piece. It's a funny listen, even if it is a bit Newt-like.

PS: I couldn't pass this one up, even if I don't belong.

Aarwenn said...

If I can break this down, it sounds like there are a few paths to take here:

1. If we count Miss Palin as an adult, then it shouldn't reflect on her mother or her mother's campaign, but shouldn't be talked about because she's the child of a candidate.

2. If Miss Palin is still a child, lives at home, etc, then her pregnancy DOES reflect on her parents, but still shouldn't be talked about because she's the child of a candidate.

3. And this question: has there been, in the past, a candidate's or incumbent's child that has DESERVED negative attention that hasn't got it? How un-even has the coverage been?

MC said...

"What about the social issues that Alaskans, especially the party faithful who often decide primary elections, may find important?

Here's what Sarah Palin has to say about abortion.

Palin said last month that no woman should have to choose between her career, education and her child. She is pro-contraception and said she's a member of a pro-woman but anti-abortion group called Feminists for Life. "I believe in the strength and the power of women, and the potential of every human life," she said."

Source - Anchorage Daily News, "Little play," by K. Hopkins Aug 6, 2006

While she does not favor distributing contraception in schools and does favor abstinence education in schools, she is not opposed to women using contraception to avoid pregnancy if they are not ready to have children.

MC said...

Also, Feminists for Life does not seem to take a stand either way on the issue of contraception (although Time and CNN have both called it a pro-contraception organization). Their web site states that it has members who are both pro-contraception and anti-contraception.

While some forms of contraception do interrupt an already-conceived human life (such as a non-hormonal IUD that prevents implantation but not fertiliation), many more just prevent the fertilization of an egg, meaning that no human life existed in the first place. Therefore, it is quite possible for one to be pro-life and pro-contraception at the same time.

l-t said...

Aa-I think you're missing my point. She's certainly not a child; she is responsible for her actions. She should deal with whatever may come. There comes a time in every child's life when their parents no longer control them. For most, it comes when they leave the house. For this young woman, it came a little bit before that, because her actions FORCED her to take responsibility for herself and the new life she has created. (And no, I'm not taking a stance on when new life gets created, just using the fact that she's elected to keep the child as evidence she has love for a new life.)

Regardless, whatever her actions & beliefs and abortion/teen pregnancy/contraceptive stance, those beliefs no longer have a bearing on her mother or her mother's beliefs and campaign. We shouldn't bother discussing it, not because she is or isn't a child, but because the beliefs of a daughter are not necessarily the same as the beliefs of the parent. As I said--they are easily the product of a rebellious teenager. Should we blame the actions of the most rebellious in the 60's generation on the parenting of the WWII vets?

Most of the negative (is there positive?) coverage of candidates'/politicians' children has been due to the media trying to start an uproar. Pure paparazzi crap. OOh! The Clinton Kid went to college, and might be drinking! Ooh! The Bush daughters are buying alcohol underage! Guess what? They're not 12; their parents didn't have much control over whatever they chose to do. Bad parenting? Maybe, but parenting skills are not the entering argument for a Presidential candidate, nor are they the only input into how an 18-22 year old lives their life.

Aarwenn said...

Hi MC,

Excellent point. I have read more on this, and I gather that Sarah Palin is pro-contraception in a marriage; that a woman does not have to get pregnant if she does not want to. I personally appreciate--and echo--this belief of hers. So that's good to know.

But it does not mean that she is not pro-abstinence-only-education, if all those double negatives make sense.

And this is where I really diverge from the Republican platform: by all means, lower and reform the welfare system. Spend less, cut taxes. "Stay the course" in Iraq. Sounds awesome. But I do NOT agree with their pro-life, anti-gay-rights, war-on-drugs policies, and therefore I can't vote for them. So, forget Sarah Palin's family: it's the fact raised about abstinence-only education that really kills me. I believe it doesn't work, and to me, this is just one more example of why.

Aarwenn said...

LT: See above--I do not believe in abstinence-only education and can't support it. I don't believe it's the lesser of two evils. Besides the knowledge of how to use condoms, its real value is in forcing teens to hear about sex from old and uncomfortably ugly adults. Hearing a large man talk about masturbation when I was a seventh grader probably scarred me for life.


Also, is getting pregnant at 17 really like buying a motorcycle at 28? Discuss.

l-t said...

I don't know if they're the same; I was saying that 17 year old boys aren't known for the clear headedness, and shouldn't be trusted with a girl's future OR a motorcycle. He really shouldn't even be trusted with his OWN future, especially around either of the above.