Monday, September 01, 2008

Ok, Bristol Palin is pregnant. So what?

She did go to schools with comprehensive sex ed. (OK, maybe not comprehensive in the sense we think of it as being with lessons about homosexuality, but to put it mildly, that's not the relevant issue.)

My guess is that the explanation, to the extent that there can be one, is:

1. Teenage kids can be very stupid when the hormones take over.
2. There's not a lot to do in rural Alaska.

Though I remain mildly curious on the whole "let's fly back to Alaska while I'm in labor" issue, I'd be OK if we could all stop talking about the Palin family's vaginas about now.

Gotta say, Obama's being a real class act about this, between his public threat to fire any of his staffers who push the story and his bringing up that his own mother was 18 when she got pregnant with him.

Let's follow his example.

CC

15 comments:

Joel Monka said...

Agreed. High on the laundry list of bad things around this incident is that Obama was forced to make his first press release following his historic nomination a statement about that story. I though he was very gracious, going above and beyond the necessary- I got the feeling he was saying "Badmouthing Bristol is like badmouthing my mother- we're not going to play the dozens here."

Come on people, not even evangelicals care about a young woman jumping the gun a little. Nobody has EVER cared all that much- it's been a standing joke for a thousand years that the first baby is often premature.

Debra W. Haffner said...

CC, oh I respectfully disagree. Yes, underage children should be off limits, but her policies on relevant issues should not be. And could they really have thought that this story wasn't going to come out? See my take at http://debrahaffner.blogspot.com

Steve Caldwell said...

CC wrote:
-snip-
"She did go to schools with comprehensive sex ed. (OK, maybe not comprehensive in the sense we think of it as being with lessons about homosexuality, but to put it mildly, that's not the relevant issue.)"

CC,

Of course, we never see adolescents engaging in heterosexual intercourse in an attempt to prove they are heterosexual. But that's not the relevant issue here.

I'm thinking that you're misinterpreting the Alaska law in terms of what it requires and what it simply allows local schools to do.

Yes -- it does sound less bad than my state's laws (Louisiana) and other "red state" laws covering sexuality education.

The schools in Alaska can provide comprehensive sexuality education.

But they don't mandate comprehensive sexuality education in public schools.

I did check the SIECUS (Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States) web site. SIECUS also has a UU connection -- the former president of this organization is now a UU minister (Rev. Debra Haffner).

Here's the link to the SIECUS web site:

http://www.siecus.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=Page.viewPage&parentID=487&grandparentID=478&pageId=822

"Alaska Sexuality Education Law and Policy

Alaska does not have a law that governs sexuality education; therefore, schools are not required to teach sexuality or sexually transmitted disease (STD) education. However, 'the Alaska Department of Education & Early Development’s health education team is committed to providing teachers and school staff within the state of Alaska with current and scientifically sound research in health education and violence and disease prevention.' The Department endorses 'Programs that Work,' a list compiled by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), though it 'does not endorse specific curricula, but seeks to provide districts with the most up-to-date materials and research-based programs so schools can evaluate what best meets the needs of their student population.'"


Furthermore, SIECUS web site does say that a recent legislation does allow for:

" ... parents are provided the opportunity to remove their children from sexuality education courses ... "

So even if the schools did provide programs comparable to the "Our Whole Lives" program, that doesn't guarantee that Gov. Palin's daughter attended these classes.

Chalicechick said...

Debra,

If you agree that underage kids should be off limits but think Palin's policies should not be, then the path you should take is clear: Talk about the policies, leave the daughter out of it.

Steve,

Unless you have some proof she removed her kid from sex-ed or did anything to actually promote abstinance-only education, then I don't think it's remotely fair to go after Palin on this point.

CC

Steve Caldwell said...

CC,

Everything I've read about Gov. Palin is that she is against comprehensive sexuality education and in favor of abstinence-only-until-marriage programs.

Does that sound like the parent who would sign the permission form for the comprehensive sex ed class?

Furthermore, it's pretty hypocritical for a parent to say this is a private family matter for my family but I want to change the law so it isn't a private family matter for other people's families.

h sofia said...

I don't care about her daughter being pregnant and unmarried. What DOES bother me is that somehow this is a pro-life issue, with people on the news saying things like, "BUT she's keeping the baby!" Same thing with Palin's baby that has Down's Syndrome and being applauded by pro-life groups as having made a "courageous" decision. WTF? As if a pro-choice mother and father would NOT decide to keep a child that had Down's Syndrome, or because they were underage/unmarried?

That's just stupid. That's like bragging about how "vegetarian" someone is because they have pets.

The whole "spin" on it is insulting to my intelligence.

Chalicechick said...

(((Everything I've read about Gov. Palin is that she is against comprehensive sexuality education and in favor of abstinence-only-until-marriage programs.)))

Everything I've read says that she answered a survey one time saying that but has never tried to enforce that policy or take comprehensive sex ed out of Alaska's schools.

(((As if a pro-choice mother and father would NOT decide to keep a child that had Down's Syndrome, or because they were underage/unmarried?))

To be fair, a lot of them don't. The abortion rate for downs syndrome kids is like 90 percent.

Honestly, I'd probably a abort a downs syndrome fetus myself, if I had one. I'm probably a bitch for that, but I'm not going through law school just so I can devote the rest of my life to being a nurse.

CC

Bill Baar said...

It's funny the John Edward's story didn't bring forth all of this talk about sex education.

No UU's wondered what kind of program Mr. Edwards had been exposed too.

Contrast the intentions of the Father of Briston Palin's child with the John Edwards actions.

I don't know how old is the Father but if he goes through marrying Bristol Palin and fufilling the duties of Fatherhood, he's far more a man than John Edwards.

Jo said...

I've never understood why "marrying the mother" is seen as such a noble (and necessary) act.

Is she damaged goods if she remains unmarried? Is she a damsel-in-distress in need to saving through legal marriage? Why is it always the man's duty to "do the right thing" by marrying her? And why this emphasis on the man marrying the woman - why is it never wondered if the woman should do the right thing and marry the pitiable man?

Marrying the mother and fulfilling the duties of Fatherhood are two distinct things - not to be confused or understood as synonymous. A man can fulfill the duties of Fatherhood independent of his legal status in relation to the mother.

And in this situation, I'd say that this poor girl has enough on her plate having a baby at 17, much less dealing with marriage on top of it - and doing all of this in the national public eye. Why not let her tackle one thing at a time, and let her do so privately?

Comrade Kevin said...

I guess I'm not as big a man as Obama.

He may favor a hands-off approach but the media and the bloggers won't. So to an extent, he doesn't have to lift a finger.

Bill Baar said...

Is she damaged goods if she remains unmarried?

Just more likely to be impoverished.

Google Obama's Father day speeches.

A guy's got a responsibility.

PG said...

Count me among those who have no reason to assume that Miss Palin got comprehensive sex-ed, given that Alaska neither requires nor forbids it. According to her high school's principal, the curriculum pushes abstinence and does not give access to contraceptives. The baby's father was home-schooled.

I do wish that Gov. Palin hadn't made so much about the fact that she can multitask because she has five kids. When you discuss your parenting, you throw that parenting open to criticism. It would have been far more sensible for Palin to refer to the fact that her husband has shouldered a great deal of parenting responsibility during Palin's governorship -- just as Obama's political career undoubtedly has required his wife to shoulder the majority of parenting responsibility.

Men have responsibility to the children they father, not to the women who apparently were OK with having sex with them without the guarantee of marriage. So far as I know, Obama never has said that you MUST marry your baby's mama, only that you must make tremendous effort to support the child and be in his/her life.

Practically speaking, a man is more likely to stay involved in his child's life if he is married to the mother at the time of birth, even if they split up a few years later. He has had a better chance to bond to the child by being in the same home.

Statistically speaking (and if we want to look at Obama's parents, note that they split when he was 2), however, teenagers who marry because of a pregnancy don't have a great chance of making it to the silver anniversary. So long as we regard marriage as being for the sake of The Children, however, that's not really important. As unpleasant as divorce is for children, not having a father bonded to them is worse.

h sofia said...

(((As if a pro-choice mother and father would NOT decide to keep a child that had Down's Syndrome, or because they were underage/unmarried?))

To be fair, a lot of them don't. The abortion rate for downs syndrome kids is like 90 percent.

I believe the statistic, but find it surprising. DH and I are both pro-choice, and tested for DS in order to be "boned up" on the subject - but with absolutely no intention of terminating.

I also wonder ... if 90% of fetuses showing signs of DS are terminated, surely there must be some pro-life folks in there terminating their pregnancies. If approximately half of Americans are pro-life, they must be having abortions for "medical" reasons, too. Unless by some unexplained phenomenon, 90% of fetuses with DS belong to pro-choice parents!

I'm curious about this, because at least half of the women I know to have had abortions identify as pro-life ....

Chalicechick said...

This site says it's 80 percent but either way, the percentage is quite high.

CC

h sofia said...

Oh I believe the stats, but what I find hard to believe is that no pro-life folks are terminating their pregnancies due to things like DS.

And, in my research about birth defects, I've learned that one thing even pro-life folks do is things like "early induction." Inducing a fetus at 20 weeks or even younger, and allowing it to die within minutes or hours, rather than carrying the pregnancy to term. But that is not considered "abortion" - at least by them. It is "letting nature take its course."

Very interesting! I for one do not consider DS to be a serious enough defect for me to abort for. Plenty of DS babies grow up to be productive and happy people ... and nowadays the life expectancy is up into the 60s.

I just hate that this is used as a pro-life/pro-choice issue, because it ignores the reality: being pro-choice does not mean you refuse to have an unhealthy baby.