Bristol Palin, 17, and her boyfriend, Levi Johnston, also 17, had sex and conceived a baby. That could happen to any parent’s teenagers. It happens in the best of families and in the worst of families. It happens because — like it or not — teenagers have sex. Most of them don’t abstain. (And neither did their parents’ generation. Why should we think they would be any different?)
That fact is exactly why many of us parents insist on sex education for our children. We want them to know about safe sex and contraception. We want them to have the best possible future, to go to college, to be able to grow up unencumbered by adult concerns till they’re ready for them. We want to protect them. When they choose parenthood, we want them to be ready for it, because we all know how hard it is to rear children.
This particular unwanted pregnancy is a private, family matter, we’re now being told by Republican operatives. Oh, come on.
Because of John McCain’s desperation to make a maverick veep choice of a partner, even if she’s breathtakingly unqualified, this private family matter is playing out on an international stage. When did McCain plan to break the news (assuming, as he claims, he already knew it)? And what about Sarah Palin? Does this cause her to question her abstinence-only stance on sex education? Did it occur to her to try to protect her daughter’s privacy by keeping her out of the merciless public eye?
So far, I see two 17-year-olds acting their age. I also see a 72-year-old man and a 44-year-old woman who need to grow up and see the world as it is. Who’s taking care of these teenagers and the baby they’re going to have? Not these two.
We’re supposed to vote for John McCain and Sarah Palin to be leaders of the most powerful nation on earth? Now, there’s a choice I can easily abstain from.
(Copyright 2008 by Ruth Pennebaker)