Scandal alert! Scandal alert!
I can almost hear the klaxon cry in newsrooms around the country as the story came out of the convention in St. Paul. The teenaged daughter of the presumptive Republican nominee for vice president – Sarah Palin – is pregnant. I have to say I was pleased to hear the way it was handled, but a bit surprised.
I wasn’t surprised by the act itself. There has been a push in recent years to get rid of any other sex education in school besides abstinence because it might teach kids how to use the equipment. This belies the fact sex education has been available for about 50 years and the human race has been around – at the most conservative estimate – six thousand years. While the New York Times has published articles showing how abstinence only sex ed doesn’t seem to be all that effective (kids in abstinence only programs seemed to have sex slightly more than kids who were in more comprehensive programs), conservatives could dismiss that as just another liberal rant like freedom of religion. Now we can see how ineffective it is. We’re talking about the daughter of a sitting governor, someone who espouses conservative religious and social mores, someone who has been in the spotlight for several years as the child of a prominent political figure. If someone like that can get pregnant out of wedlock, what chance does anyone else less privileged have?
No, what surprised me was the tack taken by the Palin family. In a statement issued by the Republican campaign, “Bristol [Palin] and the young man she will marry are going to realize very quickly the difficulties of raising a child, which is why they will have the love and support of our entire family.” In a further surprise, the McCain camp said they didn’t want to discuss the pregnancy any more because of privacy issues. In every report I saw, the decision made by the Palin family was described as a decision. Conservatives have been looking to rule against a woman’s right to privacy and take any decision making out of the hands of the individual for the last 35 years.
I’m pleased to see young Bristol was able to take advantage of Roe v. Wade and its promise to allow women to make their own choice about what happens to their bodies. Perhaps this will open the eyes of other anti-abortion advocates and show a choice made doesn’t mean an abortion will be performed.