“Teen pregnancy and sex education were thrust into the spotlight this week when Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin revealed that her 17-year-old daughter is five months pregnant.
Palin’s running mate, John McCain, and the GOP platform say children should be taught that abstinence until marriage is the only safe way to avoid pregnancy and disease. Palin’s position is less clear.
In a widely quoted 2006 survey she answered during her gubernatorial campaign, Palin said she supported abstinence-until-marriage programs. But weeks later, she proclaimed herself “pro-contraception” and said condoms ought to be discussed in schools alongside abstinence.
“I’m pro-contraception, and I think kids who may not hear about it at home should hear about it in other avenues,” she said during a debate in Juneau.
Such statements could raise concerns among social conservatives who have been some of Palin’s most enthusiastic supporters since she was tapped for the No. 2 spot on the GOP ticket last week.”
When Sarah Palin was selected to be John McCain’s running mate, she was seen by many as someone who could energize the Socially Conservative base. She held a strongly pro-life position: only supporting the right to an abortion if the Woman’s life was at risk. In addition, she opted to have her most recent child, even though she knew he would be born with Down Syndrome. Her 17-year-old daughter also decided to continue her Pregnancy and marry the father of the child. Basically, the Palins were seen as facing average problems and choosing to stick to their socially-conservative principles.
Now, however, with the revelation that Palin supports teaching contraception in school – even, seemingly, over the objection of parents – her ability to turn out the GOP base this November could be in doubt. Evangelical Christians, who make up the majority of the GOP base, and Catholics, who are one of the most critical swing groups, are often opposed to contraception being taught in schools, and, in some cases, being used at all. James Dobson, one of the most important Socially Conservative leaders, declined to comment – suggesting to me that he may be between a rock and a hard place. In addition, Palin’s position actually puts her to the left of John McCain.
Now, I don’t know yet whether or not Palin will be able to get past support for contraception without a problem, but even if she does, she will have another issue to get past, and this is where I have the much bigger problem – her support for teaching children about it even if they aren’t exposed to it at home. To me, this suggests that she believes that, even if the parents don’t support the message, the children should still be exposed to it. And, in my opinion, and in the opinions of many Conservatives, schools shouldn’t be sending messages that contradict the parent’s wishes.