I generally agree that personal lives should have very little to do with political campaigns, and thus I have had very few serious opinions about the story of Bristol Palin and her imminent teenage motherhood. Really, I only had two big thoughts, and they’re both already out on the ‘sphere.
Firstly, and shockingly, sanity from Byron York at National Review Online:
Perhaps I’m focusing on an irrelevant issue, but the presence, or non-presence, of [Bristol’s boyfriend Levi] Johnston on the stage tonight strikes me as important. It’s one thing for delegates to be understanding and compassionate about the fix these two teenagers have gotten themselves into. It’s another to actually celebrate it. And, given what we’ve learned in the last few days, if Johnston is up on stage with his girlfriend and the Palin family, and Republicans are wildly cheering, it will certainly look like they are celebrating this situation.
I don’t usually engage in these scenarios, but I’ll do it here. If the Obamas had a 17 year-old daughter who was unmarried and pregnant by a tough-talking black kid, my guess is if that they all appeared onstage at a Democratic convention and the delegates were cheering wildly, a number of conservatives might be discussing the issue of dysfunctional black families.
I, ummm, errr, welll….I couldn’t say it any better myself, Byron.
Secondly, from the Freakonomics blog, some statistics about Bristol Palin’s cohorts, women who get pregnant while still teenagers.
[Bristol] is one of 750,000 American girls ranging in age from 15 to 19 who will likely become pregnant this year…
…on average, teen pregnancies are more likely to result in premature births and low-birth-weight babies. This is not a good start in life. Babies with a low birth weight are more likely to have A.D.H.D. and are less likely to graduate from high school.
Teen moms are less likely than other women to attend or complete college, and their marriages are more likely to end in divorce; about 50 percent of women who married younger than age 18 are divorced after 10 years, compared to 20 percent of women who married at age 25 or older. In turn, single mothers have the highest poverty rates of any demographic group, and 60 percent of the U.S.-born children in mother-only families are poor.
Statistics are not destiny, and one can only hope Ms. Palin has a healthy baby, a long and happy marriage, and a sense of fulfillment as a homemaker, a career woman, or both. But the fact remains that for most women, a teen pregnancy considerably diminishes the odds of any happy ending.
But, by all means, let’s go ahead and elect Sarah Palin, who believes that any young women, anywhere in America, who make the same mistake that her underage, unmarried daughter made, should be forbidden the choice of whether or not to carry the pregnancy to term, and forced to throw their lot in with such miserable statistics. Compassionate conservatism at its finest!