News is that Sarah Palin’s oldest daughter, Bristol, is five months pregnant and plans to marry the father and keep the baby. Amidst some nasty rumors that Bristol is actually the mother of Palin’s infant — rumors that are completely unfounded but don’t stop the Daily Kos kids from running them into the ground — they chose to disclose this information to lay to rest any other potential rumors surrounding their kids’ parentage. Considering that this breaks on the third day after the announcement of Palin as the chosen VP candidate, I wonder if she’ll be on the ballot come November. Reports are that McCain already knew about the daughter’s pregnancy, but others report that McCain’s camp is just now settling in Wasilla to do the vetting they should have done before.
Some thoughts: I assume many are going to fall back on many of the stereotypes about teen pregnancy to characterize Palin’s family, particularly Bristol. They’re hicks. She’s irresponsible, she gets what she deserves. And so on and so forth.
Sigh. The scared, pregnant teenager I was can’t imagine how much it sucks that Bristol has to go through this with prime-time media breathing down her neck. But the truth is that many teen parents, especially if they’re from wealthy, stable families with lots of resources, can be great parents who raise happy and healthy kids. In this respect Bristol is not at a disadvantage. To the Palins’ credit, she appears to have their full support, and I find their forthrightness admirable considering the negative stigmas surrounding teen pregnancy. Moreover, Bristol is going to benefit from her mother’s fundamentalist base. The religious right’s belief that “doing the right thing” is getting married and starting a nuclear family will bolster her decision and her experience as a young parent because she will have support from her family and community.
I am a little troubled that marrying the father is part of the equation. I understand that the importance of the nuclear family is part of their religious community’s culture, but I’m still bothered by the willingness to throw a teenager into a legally binding contract considering how much we know about the instability endemic to teen marriages.
Nevertheless, the religious right is going to hang their hat on her choice while working to deny that right from the rest of us. Oh, and Sarah Palin is against sex ed in schools.
UPDATE: Obama is on it, saying he’s offended that people are trying to trace some of the rumor-mongering back to his camp, reminding that he himself was born to an eighteen-year-old mother, and tells reporters to “back off” the story. “I have said before and I will repeat again: People’s families are off limits.”
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