Much of the commentariat has focused on the question of how Sarah Palin will juggle the demands of five children, one with Downs syndrome, and a child with a child while she's serving as McCain's veep. Others have debated the merits of Bristol's choice (or, more likely, Sarah and Todd's choice) to carry her pregnancy to term and to marry the man who impregnated her. Will Sarah Palin find sympathy among the millions of voters who have had a child outside of marriage? Or will she be judged as a parent who put her ambition ahead of her childrearing (a question that, of course, no one would think of asking fisherman Todd or John McSame.)
But to me, there is something far more damning about the Palin family crisis. It is testimony to the utter failure of one of the key programs of the religious right and its enablers in the Republican Party--namely abstinence-only sex education. I will bet that Sarah and Todd Palin have not taught their children about condom use. Birth control? And God forbid, the day-after pill.
Here is the text of the Republican Party platform for 2008:
We renew our call for replacing “family planning”
programs for teens with increased funding for
abstinence education, which teaches abstinence until
marriage as the responsible and expected standard of
behavior. Abstinence from sexual activity is the only
protection that is 100 percent effective against out-of-wedlock
pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases,
including HIV/AIDS when transmitted sexually.
We oppose school-based clinics that provide
referrals, counseling, and related services for abortion
Well, a little family planning would have prevented Bristol's unexpected and politically-problematic pregnancy. It would have prevented a shotgun wedding of a seventeen-year old. Just saying no won't work. Take heed Sarah Palin, John McCain, and Republican Party. Take heed America. The story of the Palin family is a true American story, a story of the gaping chasm between an outdated and counterproductive Republican policy on sex and the reality that teenagers, even daughters of moose-gutting wingnuts, can't be talked or prayed or cajoled out of exploring their sexuality.