As I mentioned in my previous post, one of the biggest stories of the Sarah Palin campaign season involves the recent pregnancy of her 17-year-old daughter, Bristol. Oooh, how juicy. This is undoubtedly a sex scandal worthy of Bill Clinton, Mark Foley, and Eliot Spitzer. Please, note the sarcasm. On the real, this poor girl already has the problems associated with teenage pregnancy. To compound this stress by throwing her in front of America is a bit too much.
Sen. Obama has taken the high road with this story in indicating that family and personal matters should be off limits during campaign. I applaud him for that. In most cases, I would agree. Bristol did absolutely nothing deserving of being thrusted into the national spotlight.
NONETHELESS, in my typical about face way, I believe Bristol’s pregnancy is – and should be – an issue for a host of reasons. Here’s why:
1. The political hypocrisy of it all. Governor Palin has went on the record praising young Bristol for “her decision” to carry on with the child birth. But if Palin and McCain had their way, Roe v. Wade would be overturned; and the “decision” whether or not to have a child would not be up to Bristol or any other woman. Palin and McCain are opposed to the government being involved in our lives when it comes to social programs, economic stimulation, etc. But when it comes to telling people what they can and can’t do with their bodies, it’s another story.
Besides all of that, Palin is a staunch opponent of Sex Education being taught in school and is a person who thinks that the Abstinence Only movement is the only way to address sexual issues teens face. Yet, she can’t even look down the hall in the Governor’s mansion to see that even her own kids are having sex. If her anti-sex policies don’t work in her own home, what makes her think they will work in the homes of the rest of the country?!
2. The hypocrisy surrounding marriage. During the 2004 election, one of the driving issues motivating people’s choice was protecting “family values” and the “sanctity of marriage.” So where does getting married out of obligation fit into this paradigm? The same Republicans who will condemn two adult gay/lesbian folks who claim they love each other and want to wed are apparently the same ones who celebrate when two underaged teens get married just because they have a baby out of wedlock.
3. The element of double standards. Let’s face facts: if one of the Obama girls was of age and pulled this same stunt, the right-winged media would be all over this story. Discussions about the irresponsible pathology of black teenage pregnancy, the failure of the parents, rap videos, and a host of other explanations would come into play with the news that a teenaged Obama girl was pregnant. Let’s be clear on something, I’m not showing a morsel of sympathy for knuckleheaded teens who have sex only to wind up having babies. But I strongly think that Bristol is getting a pass due mostly to whose daughter she is. The lectures of morality that would reverberate all throughout the inner city are placed on mute when they apply to the daughter of a neo-conservative.
4. Pro-lifers need to rename themselves “Pro-birthers”. Pro-life advocates are only concerned with whether or not a woman carries out a birth. They don’t give a rat’s hindparts about what happens to the child after it’s born. Palin has pushed for the slashing of all types of support for teenage mothers. But she wants to play the most active of roles to ensure that the baby arrives. ‘Protect the baby until its born. After that, you’re on your own.’ The mantra of the GOP.
5. (Un)Available support systems. Many people commit abortions simply because they can’t afford the alternative of caring for another life. Frankly, I hate the notion of abortion, but sometimes its a necessary evil. Most poor teenagers are unlike Bristol Palin. They are not equipped with a strong support system that will allow them easy access to money, food, diapers, daycare, and other things teenage moms will be faced with (all the more reason why abortion may be horrendous, but is often done out of necessity). Yet the aforementioned support systems have historically been opposed by the GOP. Expect more if with a McCain/Palin administration.
At the end of the day, I could care less about Bristol Palin or her “decision” to conceive. This is none of my business and it does not affect me either way. But until the GOP comes down from their ivory towers of condemnation, Bristol can, and should be, fair game.