Track Palin gets far less attention than his now famous sister Bristol, his nephew Tripp, and even his little brother Trigg who was born just five months before the family was thrust into the national political spotlight. Even I, who seems to write about this family every week, pretty much forgot about him. I even missed the announcement in May that he had married his high school sweetheart Britta Hanson in a small, family-only ceremony on an Alaskan ski-slope.
Last week, Track made headlines again when it was reported that his new wife is expecting and seems to be rather far along. Though the couple has only been married for two months, pictures of her on Facebook show her very pregnant and surrounded by what appear to be baby shower gifts (something most moms-to-be don’t get until somewhere around month eight). Gossip headlines screamed shotgun wedding but that doesn’t seem exactly fair.
First of all, they’re adults; Track, 22, was on active duty in Iraq for a year and is currently an Army reservist and commercial fisherman in Alaska, Britta, 21, is a nursing student at the University of Alaska. And, from all accounts they’re in a stable, long-term relationship that spans most of their lives. So, it does not surprise me that they had sex before they got married (in fact, it would surprise me if they hadn’t). The fact that she probably got pregnant before they got married does, however, suggest that the pregnancy was unplanned and once again makes one question the Palin family’s views on abstinence education.
As governor of Alaska, Sarah Palin advocated for abstinence-only-until-marriage programs. During her 2006 bid for the job, she assured the Eagle Forum that she would support “just say no programs:”
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?
SP: Yes, the explicit sex-ed programs will not find my support.
And his sister has made hundreds of thousands of dollars as an abstinence speaker. As a spokesperson for the Candies Foundation Bristol Palin said on Good Morning America: “abstinence is the only way that you can effectively, 100%, fool proof way to prevent pregnancy.” She then clarified: “I’m saying that there is one way to prevent it and that’s not having sex.”
Not having sex is one way to prevent pregnancy but it is not the only way. Maybe if Bristol and her brother had learned more about other methods of contraception – condoms, birth control pills, injectables, IUD, you name it – Sarah would not be grandmother twice over at 47. And, maybe, it’s time for the family to rethink its stance on sex education – after all, they have three more children at home.