Bristol Palin to Teens: Don’t Get Pregnant

On December 27th, 2008 Bristol Palin, daughter of Alaska Governor and former Republican VP candidate Sarah Palin gave birth to a healthy baby boy.  Today, Bristol, who is 18 years old and just shy of achieving her high school diploma, joined her mother in a statement on the birth of her first child, Governor Palin’s first grandchild.

Governor Palin, obviously elated with the safe delivery of her grandchild and the health of her daughter, stated;

We are over the moon with the arrival of this healthy, beautiful baby.

And, she continued:

The road ahead for this young couple will not be easy, but nothing
worthwhile is ever easy. Bristol and Levi are committed to accomplish
what millions of other young parents have accomplished, to provide a
loving and secure environment for their child. They are both hard
workers, they’re very strong, and have faith they’ve made the right
decision in setting aside their own interests to make this child their
highest priority.

The operative word here is "decision."  Bristol and Levi, along with their families, made a decision that was right for them.  And the fact that they have this choice is instructive on many levels.

Bristol Palin said she "obviously discourages" teen pregnancy and knows
that plans she previously made for herself will now forever be changed.

Teenagers need to prevent pregnancy to begin with – this isn’t ideal.
But I’m fortunate to have a supportive family which is dealing with
this together. Tripp is so perfectly precious; we love him with all our
hearts. I can’t imagine life without him now.

In many ways, Bristol Palin is incredibly fortunate.  She grew up in the United States, where the choice still exists for all people, at least in theory, to practice safer sex, and where the choice still exists, at least in theory for all women, whether or not to bring a pregnancy to term.  She is part of a family with the means to ensure she had access to good pre- and post-natal care, and safe delivery services.  And she also has strong family support in raising her child while finishing school and going on to the next steps in her life.  As she underscored in her own words, her original life plans may be forever changed, but she is exercising choices that are hers to make, according to her own situation, needs, and beliefs.  I have no doubt that Bristol and Levi have the same dreams for their child as I do for mine or as any parent would.

Yet the situation is also full of irony.  Bristol grew up in a family which espoused abstinence-only policies, not just as a familial choice, but also a state- and national strategy.  During the Presidential campaign, MSNBC reported that in response to an Eagle Forum questionnaire during her gubernatorial race, Sarah Palin supported abstinence-only sex education.

Eagle Forum: 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?

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

(The report, quoting campaign aides, shows that Presidential candidate McCain held the same views).

Sarah Palin, the VP candidate, was unequivocally anti-choice when it came to women’s rights to determine whether and when to have children.  As Gloria Steinem wrote in September in the Los Angeles Times:

[Palin] opposes gun control but supports government control of women’s
wombs; she opposes stem cell research but approves "abstinence-only"
programs, which increase unwanted births, sexually transmitted diseases
and abortions.  She doesn’t just echo McCain’s pledge to criminalize abortion by
overturning Roe vs. Wade, she says that if one of her daughters were
impregnated by rape or incest, she should bear the child. She not only
opposes reproductive freedom as a human right but implies that it
dictates abortion, without saying that it also protects the right to
have a child.

The "daughter-of-abstinence-only-politician-gets-pregnant" scenario might just be fodder for comedians if not for the stark realities.  The situation is deeply emblematic of what the evidence has long told us about the efficacy of abstinence-only programs: They don’t work. 

Research findings, government policies and funding of abstinence policies have been well-covered on RH Reality Check, including a recent article by Scott summarizing findings of a Johns Hopkins University study on the failure of virginity pledges, a popular aspect of abstinence-only programs.  Extensive coverage of such programs domestically can be found on the websites of the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States, the Guttmacher Institute, and the National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy, among other sources. 

Among credible researchers, there simply is no dispute: Well-designed comprehensive programs simultaneously encourage delay in sexual activity and teach adolescents how to practice safer sex thereby preventing both unintended pregnancy and infection.  Abstinence-only programs leave them vulnerable. 

That Bristol and Levi became sexually active, were unprotected and ended up having a child before they planned to do so is not a surprise….it is somewhat predictable given what we already know about abstinence-only in reality.  That they made the choice to have their child and so quickly become adults and parents while also trying to finish high school degrees also is their basic right, and we celebrate the fact that they can exercise these choices.

Indeed, we celebrate the healthy and safe arrival of baby Tripp and wish him, his parents, grandparents, aunt, uncles, and his extended family only the very best.

But something in Bristol’s statement implies a different take on the situation….she is telling teens to prevent pregnancy in the first place, and by doing so at least implicitly suggesting that they be able to exercise responsible choices if and when they engage in sexual activity. Maybe Bristol is way ahead of her mom.

So it is fair to ask whether this most recent and very public journey for a young couple has caused Governor Palin, her supporters or other advocates of abstinence-only to reconsider their position?  If we all prize having individuals wait until they are really ready to parent, and make concious decisions about doing so proactively, then this alone is a case for realism in policy and practice. 

There is no immediate answer to this question.  Indeed, nothing in Governor Palin’s own statement either reaffirmed her belief in or challenged abstinence-only programs.

But it is worth asking, if for no other reason than Governor Palin has made clear she intends to remain on the national stage.  And the United States still funds abstinence-only programs domestically and through our global AIDS funding abroad.  Programs that leave people vulnerable and waste taxpayer dollars.

We invite those who continue to support abstinence-only programs to share their thoughts on where this situation places the debate.  The evidence is clear.  The Palin’s story unfolding in the national press puts the data in the context of personal history.  And yet the broader implications of the dichotomy between personal experience and political philosophy remains relatively unexplored.

So we ask this: why, in the real world, does anyone still defy the evidence?  In this real world in which we live, some 600,000 women die annually–and many times that number suffer illness and disablity–from complications of pregnancy and unsafe abortion.  They do not have access to safe delivery services or emergency obstetric care because it is not a high priority to provide them with these services.  In many of the poorest countries of the world women continue to bear a higher number of children than they desire due in large part to lack of choice over childbearing and lack of access to contraception, because it is not a high priority to change these circumstances.  They have decided they lack the means to "provide a
loving and secure environment for their [next] child" and so many risk their own lives in unsafe abortions to end unintended pregnancies.

In the United States, low-income African American and Latina adolescents are more likely to become pregnant than their middle- and upper income peers, and without family support or a substantial economic cushion, face a far bleaker future if they find themselves unintentionally pregnant than do Bristol and Levi. 

In all of these cases, the range of choices available is starkly limited by ideology and political expediency. 

Can we take from the story of Bristol and Levi that it is time to ensure that all people have real choices, and are allowed to exercise them?

Having Governor Palin make a clear statement rethinking her earlier positions–recognizing her daughter’s ability to make choices based on her own needs and the rights of others to make healthy choices based on theirs–would be a welcome way to start this new year.  In fact, she might just go a bit further than where Bristol left off and say: If you have sex, protect yourself.

I know my opinion of Sarah Palin would shift a bit if she said she’d read the evidence and rethought her previous position.

I have no evidence of such a change.  But who knows?  Maybe that transition also is already underway: The link to that page on Eagle Forum Alaska is no longer live.


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  • invalid-0

    Sexual abstinence only and virginity pledges are surely what the Palin’s will preach. But such messages fly in the face of years of sound prevention science research. In my view, pushing an abstinence only agenda is right up there with other forms of denialism, where science is ignored and misused for personal agenda’s at the expense of those at risk.
    Seth Kalichman

  • invalid-0

    You obviously have no relationship with God or you would see the whole abortion as well as contraception issue differently. I will pray for ignorance to depart from this externally sense driven world.

    • invalid-0

      It’s not up to you to define other people’s religious beliefs. I went to an Interfaith Council meeting at Planned Parenthood attended by four pro-choice Christian ministers. How would you like for them to tell you what to believe, or that you don’t have a relationship with God?

      God asked Abraham to kill his son. God killed Job’s children to prove a point to Satan. The God of the Old Testament has looser standards than you do. Is this the God that a relationship with will make someone not support abortion?

  • invalid-0

    I have to admit reproductive freedom sounds a lot better than killing babies. I say you run with it.

    Palin has never supported abstinence only education programs. Even CNN, an outfit not to kind to Republicans, said that was a lie!

    This was just another Palin Bashing Story.
    To see how unfairly she’s been treated, visit this site:

    • scott-swenson

      Dash, You mean this article is like those Katie Couric “gotcha” questions — “what media do you read?” because in fact Jodi poses questions? Yes, we expect our leaders to be able to answer questions about the decisions they make in their lives. Why would Palin fill out the questionnaire (linked above) if she didn’t support abstinence only. I believe it is true to say that as Governor she didn’t do anything to support ab-only, but then again she was only Governor for a few months before hitting the national scene. To Palin’s credit, she did support contraception — do you?

      Be the change you seek,

      Scott Swenson, Editor

  • therealistmom

    … that makes people believe millions of years of evolved instinct to create social bonds and to procreate will just magically go out the window because someone believes their sky-daddy’s book says no sex?

     Or the kind of ignorance that makes people believe that an embryo is the same as a fully autonomous woman?

     How about the kind of ignorance that makes people think we’ll all fall in line with a specific set of moral beliefs when in fact there is no rational basis for them?


  • invalid-0

    No, I mean the kind of ignorance that ignores even science (which does not contradict faith) that the DNA of an embryo is a human being from the moment of conception. Try meditation on the fact and you may be on your way to true freedom.
    Respectfully submitted

  • jodi-jacobson

    Dear Anon,

    I think you raise a central issue in all of these debates: The "relationship with God."


    I think it would be wrong and unfair to assume that people supporting the rights of individuals to make choices about contraception, pregnancy, childbirth, abortion, sex, and prevention (among other topics on this site) do not have a "relationship with God."  People are in this society free to state or not state their position in these terms, or to not believe in a god at all.


    But the majority of people do have what they would describe as a relationship with God.  I believe this is the point that often is missed in these debates.  I can’t speak for everyone, but in my experience, the majority of pro-choice advocates do in fact have a relationship with god or a creator or a spiritual force inherent in each of our own religious beliefs.  Even in monotheistic religious traditions, there is no one interpretation of how to treat these issues, or of how any individual facing specific circumstances might act in keeping with the teachings of his or her religious faith.


    I am Jewish, but Jewish thought, teaching and practice on these issues is highly diverse depending on what school of thought you follow and how you interpret Jewish law.  There is no one "Jewish" way. In fact, in many Jewish traditions, the weight of the public health and scientific evidence on issues ranging from sexuality education to contraceptive action is considered very strongly. Even in the most strict interpretation of Jewish law, the needs of the family and the health of mothers comes before other considerations.


    The diversity of Christian religions and practices shows there is no one "Christian way."  At another time, even the Catholic Church espoused very different views on a woman’s ability to choose abortion.  Some evangelical traditions would support contraceptive use, others would not.  And when you step away from the institutional religious bodies you find that people tend to make choices consistent with their own interpretation of their beliefs.  In the United States and in Latin America, for example, Catholics use contraception and seek out abortions at the same rate as the rest of the population.  Some gap obviously exists between the orthodox position and reality.


    The point is, we live in a country where we are not forced to choose one religious faith, nor follow a state religion nor impose our faith on others.  I think we would all be better served if we stopped assuming for both interpersonal exchanges and for political purposes that there is any one way to have a relationship with God, or to practice religious or spiritual beliefs or to be ethical or to live our values, whether we self-identify as "religious" or not, "spiritual" or not, adhere to any or no religion or believe in God.  History is pretty unequivocal on the fact that no matter what category we fall in, we are all sexual beings as a matter of our humanity, and it is in this regard that I believe that we need to equip all individuals with the knowledge, tools, and methods to be safe and responsible, without ever assuming anyone has to ever engage in sex or use contraception if they do not wish to do so, but on the flip side not denying the rights of others who do.


    Because we live in a pluralistic society, and because there are legitimate and deeply held differences theologically and personally on these issues, we can not legislate away people’s choices on such personal matters based on the assumption of one type of  "relationship with God." What I believe the government owes all of us is to provide the platform for programs based on the best public health and scientific evidence, to act as responsible and informed individuals, and to leave to each of us in our own expression of faith or ethics or whatever yardstick we each use to make decisions for ourselves.


    I agree that these are moral matters, no question.  But there is no one moral position, nor one absolute position, except in the minds of a relatively small minority.  I do believe that if we could respect those different relationships with God and understand there are moral choices behind our actions as individuals, but also agree there is no right to impose our own moral choices in this realm on others, we would be a lot further along.

    Thank you for your comments.  Best wishes for the new year, Jodi

  • invalid-0

    Most fertilized eggs do not implant. Passed ovulations are not deaths. Women who exercise regularly or drink high amounts of caffeine are not murderers because they Human DNA is found in evidence at crime sites. Does that make that evidence new humans? Your definition is not supported by any major medical group. Why would you come on a medical site and purposefully speak inaccurately about medicine? Do you want pro-choice activists to start flooding religious sites misquoting the bible?

  • invalid-0

    MomTFH, A fertilized egg is the beginning of life and that IS medical fact. It does not matter if it is human, chicken, fish, etc.– fertilization has always been know as the beginning of animal life. For human beings, the discussion has always been whether a woman has the right to terminate the beginnings of that new life (abortion or abortificants). The fact that fertilized eggs do not implant does not magically change science and yes, there was death. Life began, but it was short. Murder? First you do not understand the term ‘fertilized’ then you struggle with ‘murder’. Murder is to ‘intentionally kill.’ Where is the ‘intent’ in the death of a non-implanted egg? The pro-life side does not have a problem with death– it is part of life. It also happens with stillborn or miscarriage. It is not murder because this is nature, not the willful intent of death by another human being. As for misquoting the Bible, that is laughable! Go for it! People have been doing it for almost 2 thousand years.

  • invalid-0

    Anon @11:20

    I won’t disagree with you. At conception, a cell with a unique set of human DNA is created. Unfortunately, that entire argument is a red herring.

    Do we consider identical twins, who have the same DNA, to be the same person? Do we consider a chimeric individual (someone who has two sets of DNA) to be two people? No? Then “unique DNA” has nothing to do with the argument at hand.

    The argument is when a zygote/embryo/fetus becomes a person, which is a philosophical argument that science really can tell us nothing about.

    For example, science says that a brain dead human on all sorts of life support is still alive, which is technically true. The body is alive; the “unique set of DNA” is still present and breathing. However, many (most) people believe that with the cessation of brain activity, whatever made that human body a person has departed. Others disagree. In either case, we let families make their own decisions about whether or not to keep a brain dead family member on life support.

    Working backwards, the very beginning of life isn’t so different from the end of it. Science tells us when such and such a process occurs–when the heart begins to beat, when the nerves can feel pain, but it can tell us nothing about when a developing human fetus becomes a person. That’s a philosophical argument, and as such, the government should for the most part butt out and let people make decisions about their own bodies in accordance with their own best judgment and moral sense.

  • pcwhite

    I spent a substantial amount of time debating this on the "Real Rick Warren" thread, but I’ll try to sum up my argument again.  This takedown isn’t very detailed, but you could wade through the comments on that thread if you were interested…the relevant posts are on the last page.


    Conception / fertilization does not mark the beginning of life.   Life existed well before conception: both unfertilized sperm and eggs are demonstrably alive, and your opinion does not change that fact.  To be sure, fertilization is a momentous event…however, it doesn’t impart some magical "life" essence to the zygote that was not already there. I like the way biologist Richard Dawkins describes conception in the first chapter of his book, Unweaving the Rainbow:


    "Moralists and theologians place great weight upon the moment of conception, seeing it as the instant at which the soul comes into existence.  If, like me, you are unmoved by such talk, you still must regard a particular instant, nine months before your birth, as the most decisive event in your personal fortunes.  It is the moment at which
    your consciousness suddenly became trillions of times more foreseeable than it was a split second before.  To be sure, the embryonic you that came into existence still had plenty of hurdles to leap.  Most conceptuses end in early abortion before their mother even knows they are there, and we were all lucky not to do so.  Also, there is more to personal identity than genes, as identical twins (who separate after
    the moment of fertilization) show us.  Nevertheless, the instant at which a particular spermatozoon penetrated a particular egg was, in your private hindsight, a moment of dizzying singularity.  It was then that the odds against your becoming a person dropped from astronomical to single figures."


    So, yes, fertilization is a momentous event.  However, it is NOT the creation of life, because "life" actually existed many years before fertilization ever occurred.*

    *in the case of human eggs, these came into existence when the potential mother was in utero herself.  Actually, if you were to take this point a little further, you could argue that the "life" of these eggs has existed since the beginning of life on Earth — the eggs produced in a fetus’ ovaries are derived from her body cells, which were derived from that single cell which is a unified sperm and egg (zygote), which in turn was derived from the egg of its mother, which existed when she was in situ…and so on! :) until we reach the beginning of all instances of parents imparting life unto their children.

  • invalid-0

    Pcwhite, that was one of the dumber and more nonsensical posts I have read in a long time. Everyone has placed importance on conception/fertilization, not just ‘moralists and theologians’ as you mistakenly believe. Chicken eggs are separated from male chickens so they do not fertilize because then it is no longer an egg– it is a developing chicken. Caviar is separated from the male fish because once fertilized, it is no longer fish-eggs– it is developing fish. We all understand the distinction between reproductive cells and developing cells. Once the sperm enters the egg, they are no longer sperm and egg — they are the beginning of a human being. Not a fish, not a chicken, and not a mole, birthmark, or extra arm. Most all of the other people on this website are honest about that fact. And all seem to understand that abortion is not allowing a child to be born. If you are for abortion, fine. Just be honest.

  • pcwhite

    (I smell another massive derailment…oh boy.)


    Actually, if you had bothered to read my post, you’d notice the reference to "moralists and theologians" was Richard Dawkins’, not mine.  Dawkins is a distinguished scientist, so forgive me for assuming his words are germane to this discussion.  My point was on the word "life" — again, if you’d read my post at all, you would realize that I said fertilization is indeed a momentous event in the life cycle.  My point is that you can’t speak of life as a magical essence: sperm and eggs are alive, and nothing about uniting the two confers more "lifeyness."  It doesn’t matter if the popular consensus says otherwise — real scientists know that it isn’t "life" that separates zygotes from sperm and eggs.  What separates eggs and sperm from a cell further along in development?  If you’re going to use the argument from potential ("it can grow into a human being!") then you have to acknowledge that reproductive cells on their own have the same potential to gestate and grow – they just have one more obstacle to overcome.


    Please, before you rudely insult me by calling me dishonest, dumb, and nonsensical, can you bother to read my actual words?  I know it’s so much easier to attack a strawman effigy, but it would make you look a lot less like a hypocrite.  Who is being dishonest here?

  • invalid-0

    I’m very happy to see such a lively debate in the comments section on this article. I’m even happier to see people in favor of reproductive health putting forth logical, well-thought out arguments, while those representing the religious right keep spewing emotional, immature and ill-formed thoughts. It helps frame the debate so much more clearly to those who stumble upon this site looking for information and clarity.

  • invalid-0

    Pcwhite, I did read your post. His quote was fine. It was YOUR words I was responding to. YOUR paragraphs made very little sense. Frankly your recent post was just as bad. “Reproductive cells on their own have the same potential to gestate and grow”…. as what? In a logical argument, the use of a simile is usually followed by a comparison but you did not. The point you are making is incomplete and makes no sense.

    You misread my post. I did not call you dishonest, dumb or nonsensical, I called your POST dumb and nonsensical. I have never met you, but I have read your post. The “strawman” comment is fun if you are not interested in a civil or logical discussion. Case in point is now the misuse of the word ‘hypocrite’– it makes no sense here because you have no way to know if my actions match my words since all you see are my words.

    From your first post: “So, yes, fertilization is a momentous event. However, it is NOT the creation of life….” Well then what is it?! So you believe that yes fertilization is momentous, then you follow it up with a qualifier…. and then another paragraph further explaining your qualifier. Unfortunately since most of us believe that the “momentous event” of fertilization IS the creation of life and since that is how you started your paragraph, you did not tell us what about fertilization you believe makes it a “momentous event.” The point is left incomplete. Without explanation it too makes no sense.

    My request to “just be honest” was not meant nearly as harsh as you took it. I got the impression from your 5 paragraph post that you felt you needed to uber-explain your position with personhood, zygotes, and “momentous events” that you do not think are momentous. I just think it is easier to just say “I know that abortion is the ending of a human life and I am okay with that.” Again, most pro-choice people acknowledge that without the soliloquy. That is not an insult. It is just a request for clarity.

    BuyCondoms: sorry to disappoint if your post was indirectly to me. I am not religious right. I am a former Democrat who prefers clarity and logic to name-calling and “bible-tennis.”

  • invalid-0

    Pcwhite, that was one of the dumber and more nonsensical posts I have read in a long time.

    It seems as though you are not reading the words you post here – pcwhite’s comment was quite logical, rational, and readable IMHO, whereas you seem to be regurgitating religiously insane superstitious nonsense from your preferred flavor of religious insanity.

    You say that Unfortunately since most of us believe that the “momentous event” of fertilization IS the creation of life… without providing any sort of factual proof that your beliefs are facts. Please speak for yourself – I would strongly disagree that your beliefs are shared by most, and I would also wonder by what right you think that your beliefs should be taken as being reality-based and should be factored into the laws of the land.

  • invalid-0

    The thing that troubles me is that we so look down on teens. For all of human history people have been marrying and becoming parents as teenagers. I can’t imagine it will change because it is normal. What is so weird is that our society doesn’t promote commitment within those relationships. If two sixteen year olds want to get married, why not? They can live with together in the home of one of their parents. If they have kids, grandma can babysit while they are at work or school. It is not a social evil. It may not be materialistic, but that doesn’t make it bad or wrong. Family and love are more important than money or education. Besides when everyone in a family pulls together, there are enough time and resources especially among extended family living under one roof. In time the young couple grows older stronger, wiser, more affluent as well as grateful, and they give back to their parents, children and eventually grandchildren. Lots of immigrants in my neighborhood live in such a fashion and they are happy and loving.

    I think we could be more open minded and supportive toward young people who are starting their families. Not everything in life is about being independent and materially successful. We can still respect a mother or father even when she or he is young.

  • jodi-jacobson

    Dear SG,

    It is true that historically people married earlier and they had children beginning earlier in their lives.  (Although not always the case in the US.)

    But in virtually every society, the age of marriage tends to increase with the expansion of choices for women in terms of education, economic opportunities, and greater decision-making.  They may choose to fulfill dreams that may include but extend beyond partnership and raising a family.  (And let’s not forget that "marriage" is not open to everyone).  

    This is a complicated issue, but a few points.  First, I don’t think anyone here was "looking down" on any teen making the choice to bear a child nor did I sense anyone here trying to stigmatize teens making those choices.  Rather, the point was, in the case of Bristol Palin, she obviously made a choice that was right for her.  I think all people should be able to exercise the choices that are right for them–including using contraception or ending an unintended pregnancy.  


    Second, the facts are pretty clear: teen parenthood is generally associated with lower educational attainment, higher rates of poverty, and fewer life options.  This is not about materialistic goals or excessive wealth as much as it is about a healthy and educated population that is able to make conscious decisions at the right time in their lives, to make enough money to support a family, afford food and housing, health care and the rest.


    Many countries still have relatively high rates of early marriage and childbearing…and they also have high rates of maternal death and illness, infant and child mortality, lower employment and higher poverty rates.  In most of those settings, the prevalence of early marriage and childbearing is both a consequence and a cause of gender disparities in access to education, income, and access to/control over resources.  In such settings, women also tend to bear more children than they ultimately desire and than they feel they can afford.  This in turn also has demographic and economic implications.


    Bottom line is that most teen pregnancies in this country are not the outcome of a choice but rather the outcome of unprotected sex in which a pregnancy is not the desired outcome.  And in this country, high rates of teen pregnancy among some populations is less a reflectio of people choosing among equal options, but more about lack of other means through which to attain social status and self esteem.  As a social strategy, most nations have been moving away from early marriage and early childbearing for these and a host of other reasons.

    That is different than stigmatizing teens who do become pregnant and bear a child, which we of course want to avoid at all costs.

    Best wishes, Jodi

  • pcwhite

    I think you do all my work for me in this reply, anon.  We’ll let the other readers judge for themselves just whose posts are dumb, nonsensical, or devoid of clarity or rational thought.  :]

  • invalid-0

    Hello Friends,

    this is mite be possible firstly you imagine for this and than reply it.

  • invalid-0

    I think what I didn’t emphasize was that it is important for teens to have love and commitment from their partners and family. If the average pregnant teen were loved and supported by her partner and both sets of parents, she would be happier and more able to go on with her education etc. However many in society outright condemn early marriage. I mean I would be just as happy to spend money helping my son and his family get a house as I would be to help him go to college because really if he has a wife and family to love him, that is more important than education. And he and his wife could still go to college anyway when they are married.
    I think most so called unwanted pregnancies are particularly unwanted by uncommitted families and partners. The people who should love and support the young woman and her baby. It is pretty hard to stand up against a culture that calls you loser because you want to get married instead of go to college.

    Interestingly most 40 year old German women report that they wished they had had more children. I think women are pressured to have fewer children, have them later in life and spend less time with them than what they would prefer.

    I just hate it that women went from being pressured to be perfect wives and moms even if it wasn’t right for them, to now being pressured to be just the opposite even if being a wife and mother is their personal ambition.

  • jodi-jacobson

    SG….I think you are making a leap across the gulf of assumption.

    You write…"If the average pregnant teen were loved and supported by her partner
    and both sets of parents, she would be happier and more able to go on
    with her education etc."

    In other words, you are saying that you can determine what outcome would make the "average pregnant teen" happy……can you share that crystal ball?

    I sense a double standard here.  If a teen decides she wants to terminate an unintended pregnancy, if she had sex, got pregnant but does not want to marry her current boyfriend irrespective of the support of her parents, you are clear that this is the wrong decision and she is "not happy" making this decision?

    So her feelings, decisions and concerns–the choices she makes whether or not to have a child if she becomes pregnant–are not to be trusted?  These are irrelevant?

    But if she marries at a young age, becomes a wife and mother, she is forever fulfilled no matter what?

    Who said anything about stopping women from becoming wives and mothers if that is their "personal ambition?"  Bristol made a decision to become a mother.  No one is knocking it.  Other people make their own decisions.

    I find it offensive for anyone to make so many assumptions about anyone else’s life. I try not to do it for others; I don’t like people doing it for me. 

    I was once pregnant while still in my teens and terminated that pregnancy.  I now have two healthy children to whom I strive every day to be a good parent, while also working and participating in my community.  These were and are my choices.  I own them.  No one pressured me.  Choices are made every day of our lives that we may look back on with regret, job choices, choices about family and friends and place of residence….there are lots of pressures in life.  But we have to own our decisions and move on.

    Please do not create "idealized" circumstances in your head and try to place other people in these boxes.  The point here is to expand people’s choices and stop trying to fixate on your own path as the path for everyone.

    With best wishes, Jodi 


  • invalid-0

    Who cares what the nut case Palin thinks. She is odd and old news. Make her go away please and we will be better off!

  • invalid-0

    And he and his wife could still go to college anyway when they are married.

    Whoa there! Even with good family support, going to college after someone has a child or children, a spouse, and the costs associated with a growing family is not exactly like tripping lightly down the garden path. Who will watch the kid(s) when Mom and Dad are in class? Grandma and Grandpa? I’m 27 and my parents both work full time; they were no where near retirement age when I was a teen. That leaves daycare, or the parents going part-time and arranging their schedules around the kid(s), and any jobs that they need to hold down in order to pay for food, diapers, doctors visits, etc. Toss in a mortgage or rent (as a typical couple, not one living on the charity of parents), car repairs, insurance, and possibly car payments, and a whole host of other bills and responsibilities that go with having a family, and college doesn’t look as easy as you seem to be suggesting.

    I’m not saying that teens who have children can’t go to college, or can’t thrive. I’m just saying that, with our current lack of support for single mothers, if a teen wants to go to college, she has a better chance of graduating if she waits until after college to have children.

  • invalid-0


    My point is that some, maybe many, young women, who might be comfortable going ahead and getting married like Bristol did, are not supported in doing so by the baby’s father and her own parents.

    And I definitely think there is enormous pressure on teens especially men not to marry when they are young even when a baby is on the way.

    I am refering to encouraging love and commitment between the two young people. I think love and commitment are part of a healthy relationship. If she is pregnant, they obviously have some sort of relationship. Why not encourage them to make it a healthy one?

    That may not be enough of course, but she should at least be able to count on the love, support and encouragement of her family and her partner.

  • invalid-0

    You said it! Our current lack of support. Partners and families should be there to support women when they need them. They should be supportive whether or not she wants to go to college. I have so many friends who went to college and got married and stayed home with their kids. They only went to college because of cultural expectations. Their desire for a career was to be a mom only. I think families need to be supportive of women whether they want careers outside the home or inside the home. Most women may prefer to work outside the home but there should be partner and family support for either choice.

  • invalid-0

    Should that same support be available to men who would like to stay at home and raise their families?

  • invalid-0

    I care about what Palin says and hopes she continues in her political endeavors. Congratulations to the Palin family!