Friday, February 27, 2009

Update: Bristol Palin’s Statement Attacked

In a not-terribly-unpredictable turn of events, teenage Bristol Palin’s candor on Fox News – she asserted that abstinence-only sex education is “not realistic at all” – has been unequivocally denounced by her mom’s evangelical base. The National Abstinence Education Association, an organization with conservative cred and a history of exploiting the Palin pregnancy to further the abstinence-only myth, issued a condescending and inaccurate statement:

“While Bristol’s story makes for an interesting human-interest story, her comment should not be the basis to form public policy on the complex issue of teen sex especially if we look at the facts regarding the teen sexual activity… The fact is most teens are abstinent. There are millions of teens for which abstinence is not only realistic, but is their chosen lifestyle. An honest look at the statistics confirms this fact… The cold hard fact coming out of Alaska is that not all teens choose abstinence but we should be encouraged by the fact that the majority do!”

Even putting the erroneous “facts” (debunked here by Jodi Jacobson) of this statement aside, the backhanded dismissal of eighteen-year-old Bristol is simply repugnant – and this from a right-wing base that, not too long ago, showed proper ire at the “gotcha” media’s coverage of the Palin family. Where is that ire now? And of course, it would be admirable of Palin to come out in her daughter’s defense, and perhaps even admit that there ought to be some change in her own hard-line views.

In the meantime, we can only admire Bristol’s gutsiness – the very fact that she has not retracted or apologized for her comment is a credit to her – and hope that her honesty manages to make a statement of its own. Geoffrey Dunn puts it best: “If Sarah Palin's evangelical base really wants to confront teen pregnancy, they'd be smart to listen to Bristol Palin and others in her shoes and absorb some of their real-life wisdom.”

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