Linda, one of the other bloggers on Firstmother Forum, has been upset about this and the girl's life going forward, but perhaps I'm more jaded. I just see the pregnancy as the typical response to having abstinence-only sex education classes, which is what Ms. Palin advocates. And I would assume, she would work to further abstinence-only sex education should she end up as vice president. Here's a snippet of a column I wrote for a local newspaper a year ago:
Everyone can agree that abstinence will prevent pregnancies as well as sexually transmitted diseases. Abstinence-only programs have been promoted by every GOP Congress and president since Ronald Reagan, who instituted them in 1981. In 1996, a GOP Congress mandated that $50 million each year go to abstinence-only programs, with another $37.5 million coming from the states in matching grants.[Obviously they had no trouble getting this money in Alaska.] Since then the government has spent $1.5 billion on such abstinence-only sex education, despite plenty of evidence that they are simply bogus.
They don't work in the long run--heck, they don't even work in the short run. The studies are numerous, but a favorite of mine is one done jointly by Columbia and Yale universities. It found that while "virginity pledges" seem to encourages teenagers to delay sex the effect was short lived. Eighty-eight percent--call it an overwhelming majority--of those who signed such a pledge ended up having sex not only before they married, but--equally fascinating, before the study ended. Hmm...sounds like most of the virgins stuck to the pledge when it was convenient, but not once they found someone to love.
Two other bits of data from that study stand out: Those taking the pledge had the same rate of sexually transmitted disease as those who did not. (Zero gain.) And they were less likely to use a contraceptive when they put their booties under someone else's bed. (Negative loss.)
And if those same teenagers are having unprotected sex, they are more likely to have unintended pregnancies. [I'm going to assume Bristol's pregnancy is unintended.] Which brings us back to that nagging abortion rate that's been stuck in neutral under Bush's watch, this is, not going down as it had under Clinton. In short, abstinence-only programs lead to more unintended pregnancies. According to the Guttmacher Institute, half of the 6.4 million pregnancies in the U.S. each year are unintended. Half of them are carried to term.
In April of 2007, the Department of Health and Human Services quietly released a long-awaited, Congressionally mandated evaluation of Title V-abstinence-only programs. The conclusion: "Youth in the program group were no more likely than the control-group youth to have abstained from sex, and among those who reported having had sex, they had similar numbers of sexual partners and had initiated sex at the same mean age."
The good news was the the Democrats finally pulled the plug on such an inane and failed program. They planned to let a $50 million grant expire in June, 2000. Conservatives were outraged.
Along with their outrage, I would assume conservatives had more unplanned pregnancies in their teen population. I am a old-timer who went to Catholic schools and had sex at the time when guys who said that they didn't like using condoms got away with it. (Yes, my daughter's father did say that.) Today, more teens are having sex than they were in my day, but in a sane world they are given the education, and easy access to contraception, they need to have sex that is not only safe, but does not lead to an unplanned conception.
No matter how we feel about this family personally and politically, no matter how we feel about abortion, what I applaud and feel good about is that this child will not be given up for adoption. That would be the real tragedy. And we might not hear, as both the Bush presidents have been want to spout--"adoption not abortion."
Bristol's road will not be an easy one, but she will have her baby. And keep it.
PS: For those of you who listened to my lament about Yvonne, we spoke. She denies, denies that she could have ever called women who give up babies "reproductive agents." I believe she believes that she did not say that. She sat quietly and listened while I tried to educate her and open her mind somewhat. I may have succeeded. Or maybe not.
Yvonne is not/never was against adoptees searching, and thank god, her hairdresser (who eventually married the father) has had a successful reunion with the daughter the couple lost to adoption. Among the many things I said was that sometimes the adopted person is not able to do the search because the original birth certificate has been altered, or for other reasons. She was aware that in France the OBCs were never sealed. Can we be friends again? I hope so, in time. Right now I'm still internally reeling from her outburst.