My first reaction was concern for Bristol Palin, seventeen years old, unmarried and pregnant. Then, I realized that she is the daughter of the only vice presidential candidate the right wing family values party has, so she not only gets a pass, she will become the object of forgiveness and understanding. Even Christian Right supporters say, “Happens all the time. No big deal.”
Of course, if Bristol had been the daughter of a two job working mom of lower Louisiana, she would be labeled an immoral moocher of the welfare system. However, neither “daughter of” is the point.
What is significant is that the mother of one, who seeks to be “one heart beat” away from the Presidency of the United States, and in spite of evidence of its failure to work, promotes “abstinence-only” as God’s way. William Bennett says, “Abstinence works every time.” But that is not quite true. According to a 2006 report of the National Survey of Family Growth, fully 95 percent of Americans are sexually active before marriage. That means in the real world, abstinence works 5 percent of the time. On the other hand, condoms work 97 percent of the time. Bristol’s unwanted pregnancy is an example of a failed policy backed up by little more than a mama’s theology.
Eric Alterman, in Why We are Liberals, writes, “while abstinence-only programs show little evidence of sustained effect on a student’s sexual activities, they do reduce the use of contraception, including condoms.”
Yet, Governor Palin would use her political dominance to force on public schools an Abstinence-only curriculum in spite of it’s 95 percent failure record.
Governor Palin also chooses her theology over overwhelming scientific evidence to the contrary when it comes to human causes for global warming, and teaching Creationism in public schools. My concern is that when it comes to advising a President McCain, in the case of a crisis with Russia, or more expansionism by Israel, or confrontation with Islam, will she be guided by evidence, and history and facts on the ground or by her fundamentalist theology?
September 2, 2008