September 2nd, 2008
01:35 PM ET

Bristol Palin and sex ed

[cnn-photo-caption image=
http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/09/02/art.vert.bristol.palin.bball.jpg caption="Bristol Palin, daughter of Republican vice presidential candidate, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, poses as a member of the Juneau-Douglas High School junior varsity basketball team in February 2007." width=292 height=320]Amy Holmes | Bio
CNN Political Analyst

Editor’s Note: Amy Holmes is an Independent conservative who has not endorsed any candidate for president.

Here's what we know. Bristol Palin is pregnant. And that's all we know. We don't know if she was unaware of how babies are made, or how to acquire contraception. As the eldest of five children, it's hard to imagine that she was not acquainted with the basic facts of life. And none of it is our business.

If we want to turn someone's personal life into a teachable moment, may I suggest John Edwards? "Warning: Extra-marital sex may result in messy paternity rumors and derail national political ambitions."

Do they teach that in sex ed?

Filed under: Amy Holmes • John Edwards • Raw Politics • Sarah Palin
soundoff (98 Responses)
  1. Mina

    You say that this is a personal matter, and it’s none of our business, but I disagree. I’m sure it must be tough to be 17 and pregnant, I can’t imagine how awful she must feel. But at the same time, Sarah Palin knowingly put her daughter in the spotlight when she accepted the VP nomination. Sarah Palin should have known that her anti-abortion stance, and abstinence only views would cause controversy. Especially since her teenage daughter is now pregnant.

    Look, teens are going to have sex, and we need to educate them. Teach them about STD’s and the proper use of condoms. Maybe if we addressed the issue instead of ignoring it, teen pregnancy wouldn’t be so high. If you take a look at Sweden and the Netherlands, sex ed is taught at a young age, and the teen pregnancy/STD rates are the lowest in the world.

    And might I remind you, the media most definitely (and quite enthusiastically) covered Edwards personal life. So, it kind of sounds hypocritical when some in the media are saying hands off. Where was the media’s outrage when the Bush twins were called drunks, and Chelsea Clinton was called ugly. One can’t pick and choose which politicians private lives are off limits. Either you cover them all, or you cover none.

    By the way, John McCain is the last one to be outraged about personal attacks on children. Especially considering this “joke” he made in June 1998 at a Republican dinner. “Why is Chelsea Clinton so ugly? Because her father is Janet Reno.” Class act John, Class act.

    September 3, 2008 at 9:49 am |
  2. Katie

    I agree with you Amy. This is not our business. If she was not the VP candidate i don't think this would be as big of a deal. And i'm sorry.. but to all of you out there who are stuck in the old days....premarital sex happens, accidents happen...i'm NOT saying it's right but it's a fact just as interracial dating is and people just need to get used to it! It will be a task for Sarah to do the VP thing and help be the mother she needs to be with her daughter at this time...but if she didn't think she could handle it, i don't think she would've accepted it. Stop criticizing her and her daughter....this is completely not our business! We don't criticize every pregnant teen out their and her mother do we? Not all of those situations are brought to the public as this is is it? Why this one? Why now? It's just something else to stick our nose in when it don't belong there.

    September 3, 2008 at 6:13 am |
  3. Neil

    Heather wake up this is a woman who preaches about family values and is against sex education in schools but is for teaching about abstenance uuuuuhh am i missing something here its not working duh. She cant even control what is going on in her own household give me a break if this were the Obama family I think u would be singing a differtent tune.

    September 3, 2008 at 3:01 am |
  4. Jen

    What kind of mother claims to be about family values but accepts a VP nomination knowing that it will put her teen daughter's pregnancy in the spotlight? It's not like Bristol got pregnant yesterday and someone dug up the story. Palin accepted the nomination, and her politics are heavily anti-abortion – and yet we're supposed to think that her daughter's teen pregnancy is a personal matter?

    September 2, 2008 at 10:53 pm |
  5. Susan

    So many of you have totally lost sight of the main point. Sarah Palin's daughter is NOT the issue. It is Sarah Palin's accomplishments we should be looking at. Here is a woman who has taken on corrupt government, almost single handedly at times, and won the battle! She has been a middle class family, like most of us, she has stepped up in different positions in government and done an incredible job for a state that was really a mess before she got in there. She cleaned house on corruption, and didn't discriminate between parties to do it.
    This may be EXACTLY what we need in Washington right now! We need to clean some house in our congress. She would do that. She's not afraid to go up against the inner culture that has been created there.
    People need to think about that. She could be the best thing that has ever happened to Washington. Everyone keep shouting they want things straightened out there. Then we get someone who can actually DO the job, and what do we do... we lambast her family and the fact that she's what... a woman?
    Obama has handled this with dignity, unlike the press. But I do have to say if one of Obama's daughters got pregnant at an early age, you'd probably never know about it, because he has said he'd have it taken care of.

    September 2, 2008 at 8:39 pm |
  6. Heather

    I can't believe you are doing this. Her daughter is supposed to be off limits! Including her into a discussion regarding sex ed is totally crosses the line. She is not running for political office her mother is. Please leave it alone. What decision she made with her family and the young man involed are totally and completely none of my business. If you want to talk about sex ed in this country fine,but don't do it and include a teenage girl. Respect her privacy.

    September 2, 2008 at 6:16 pm |
  7. Kristi Borchers

    So HER private life is off limits for us to comment on, but when she wants for force her breed of "family values" on me or my body . . . I have to let her have her say so?????? I think not.

    September 2, 2008 at 5:41 pm |
  8. Michele

    Amy, you are so wrong. This is completely relevant. The Republicans have set themselves up consistently as the party of "family values" and tried to make the rest of the world feel like residents of Sodom. I appreciate that the Repugs have to spin this, but if Young Miss Palin doesn't know how babies are made, we all sure do and we know what she and Levi had to do to make one. Point. The youth of the Repugs take their pants off one leg at a time just like everybody else. Let's have a dialog about that.

    September 2, 2008 at 5:35 pm |
  9. Miriam from Philly

    I again question Palin's judgment in considering this job when she has underage children and a special needs infant. I don't thin she needs the money. Why would she take on a job that would make her unavailable to her kids when they most need her? How can she say that she cares so much about America, when she is considering missing the most important years of her children's lives?

    September 2, 2008 at 5:28 pm |
  10. craig

    I think if the shoe was on the other foot, and this situation was happening with barracks child, the republicans would be all over this story calling the democrats out on how they raise their children, and should america vote for a person with LOW family Morals. This whole story smells of republican posturing, by calling this family courageous for facing this head on.... Give me a break, what they are not willing to talk about is their own paries morals, because that would be hypacriticle.(spell check please) lol

    September 2, 2008 at 5:22 pm |
  11. Lee

    To all of you, especially Amy
    I am interested in how this Sarah Palin will get her oil on our soil. You gossipers want to talk about her daughter, who is a product of our current society. You would think that she is the first child who ever screwed up, and she did. We know she is not the first, because, why else would we have abortion laws to "help" these poor little girls and why would we have umpteen programs to support unwed mothers and illegitimate children. Her mother could have talked to her every day about birth control (and who knows for sure that she did'nt?) and the results could have been the same. Republicans have the same problems as democrats when it comes to home life. Raising kids is not easy. Talking to them does not always work, they are their own people and will make the same mistakes that generations of we the people have made. We are supposed to be a united nation, not venomous demons that throw salt in other people's wounds. I feel sorry for Obama today, because he barely has a lead in most polls and this is going to have a negative effect on the voters. WE want to know what is going to happen in the next four years with OUR country. We already know what will happen in four months in the Palin Family....and it will have NO impact on ME or YOU. Grow up people and dig for the stuff that will help you make an educated choice in two months. Let this one go for the sake of all of the candiates.

    September 2, 2008 at 5:19 pm |
  12. Holly


    Yes, politician's children should be off limits. But a discussion on whether sex education is necessary in this country certainly is. Sarah Palin believes that abstinence and no sex education is the way to go. Obviously, it's not worked out well in her own family.

    Bristol is fortunate to have a family that stands beside her in this difficult time. Many, many young women in America today would not be in the same supportive situation.

    Not to mention those women that have been raped, or in cases of incest. If Sarah had her way, they'd be having those children, no matter what!

    Is Sarah going to take support all those young women and children too?

    September 2, 2008 at 5:19 pm |
  13. Victoria

    OK - Cheney's daughter is a lesbian, the Bush girls were involved in under age drinking, and now Bristol is pregnant - I can certainly see that those firm family religious values are really strong within the Republican party. If this is what the children are up to just think about what their parents are hiding. Oh, never mind – we know what they have been doing for the past 8+ years.

    September 2, 2008 at 5:19 pm |
  14. Bill Plastina

    I have no problems with the moral issues involved with this young girl being pregnant, this should be a situation that is handled within the family unit. What I find so hypocritical and appaling is that her mother, the Vice President nominee, would release a statement saying how "proud" she is of her daughter's decision to go through with the pregnancy. Isn't this the same person who supports having this decision deemed illegal? I would think that there would be no choice in the matter as far as this family is concerned.

    September 2, 2008 at 5:16 pm |
  15. Stacy

    What does John Edwards have to do with this?

    September 2, 2008 at 5:10 pm |
  16. Kendall Aschoff

    It seems to me that the issue that should be addressed regarding Gov. Palin's pregnant teenage daughter is not about the pregnancy itself, but about the ruthless disregard with which she dragged her daughter into the national media spotlight. She must have known that this issue would become national news when she accepted the nomination. This calls into question Palin's judgment regarding protecting family first. It seems to me that she and McCain accepted her nomination knowing fully that she would be sacrificing her daughter and family's privacy on this matter. If she is unwilling to exercise good judgment to protect her own daughter, what assurance do we have that she has the judgment to protect our country?

    September 2, 2008 at 5:09 pm |
  17. Donna Zuk Adley

    I have great empathy for this child being brought into the limelight for the choices she has made.

    What concerns me is Palin's mindset and her voting against sex education. Did she also believe in no sex education taught at home as well? We need to make not just choices in life, but informed choices. That was not fair to this child. This Repubican "head in the sand" mindset continues and is potentially dangerous.

    Who will financially support this child? Mom? Dad? Grandma V.P.? The taxpayer? How old is dad? Is he 17 or 18 as well, so he cannot support the child? If he is a lot older than her - I do not know the statute in Alaska, but it is usually 2 or 3 years older where it would be considered statutory rape regardless of her consent.

    September 2, 2008 at 5:05 pm |
  18. s smith

    Gov Palin has an 80 per cent approval. Discuss.

    September 2, 2008 at 4:59 pm |
  19. marvinohio

    This is the type moral issue is private, but when you are running for office you have to expect this type play.. i think Sarah is a good person and all that, but one would gather she hasn't been a home much and you that happens when kids raise themselves...

    Go home Sarah!!!
    your family needs you your counrty don't !!!!

    September 2, 2008 at 4:58 pm |
  20. Rick from Alaska

    Who our we kidding I didnt learn about sex from the schools I learned from my friends in school. We cant expect to lock up or watch our children 100% of the time we can only hope that we have given them the best values we can. I would speculate that 99% of you have had sex before the age of 17 (unprotected).

    September 2, 2008 at 4:44 pm |
  21. nerakami, Miami

    It is Bristol Palin's mother.... Sarah Palin who chose to accept the VP position knowing fully well that her daughter was an unmarried teenager. DO NOT blame the public for commenting on what Sarah Palin chose to expose her daughter to. Is she that naive to think that there would be zero political fallout from her daughter's situation?

    I am a mother and put 100% onus on Sarah Palin to have made the decision to accept John McCain's VP offer. She chose her political ambitions over the well being of her family. To attack the public for commenting is equally naive. We don't know this woman and everything about her matters including her poor parental choice not to protect her daughter first, political career second...

    September 2, 2008 at 4:38 pm |
  22. Sabrina, houston texas

    I think that Bristol never had that talk about sex education and the importance of contraceptives since her Mother Sarah voted against it! It's extremely important to talk to your children about sex education and contraceptives due to the fact that aids and some many other diseases are spreading throughout our country. Sarah should of voted for sex education so the children can get the facts about having sexual encounters before marraige or just in general can change your life forever. Now you have Bristol who is pregnant to raise a child and try to continue her education with her mother in Washington. Sarah can't keep tabs on her own home let alone this country......

    September 2, 2008 at 4:27 pm |
  23. Rose

    Hey Amy

    Wake-up and smell the coffee you really thing that this 17 years old didn't know anything about sex? Bristol knew what she was doing to bad her mother didn't pay more attention to her. One thing all children what is the attention and love from their parents...something was lacking here. And it wasn't SEX EDUCATION!

    September 2, 2008 at 4:19 pm |
  24. Robert Pless, Kennesaw, GA

    I have to agree with Megan. Putting Bristol on the limelight in the world's stage is quite distasteful, although it was done in an attempt to show good taste. I am quite the believer in karma, and I believe that news like this is what John McCain exactly deserves for trying to exploit Sarah Palin's gender and pull in the staunch Hillary supporters by bringing in some crap doppelganger. It's funny how McCain did not even consider how this would look on the Republican party, who celebrates not having children out of wedlock, he was just concerned about the votes or whatever. Shows where the moral section of his mind is.

    September 2, 2008 at 4:11 pm |
  25. Scott Kemper

    Wow, Wildlife Conservationist? I guess, Elk, Pheasant and Quail hunting were easier and fundamentally more important than the Birds and the Bees. I guess its all about picking your game. Mrs. Palin has shown her choice of game isn't bringing home the blue ribbon this time!

    September 2, 2008 at 4:06 pm |
  26. Terri

    oh and Nate, The Dems are not going after this issue. It is the media. There are very few Democrats that are talking about it at all. They are certainly not talking about Bristol Palin. If they are talking about it at all it because the GOP makes themselves out to be the party of higher moral values.

    These things happen in all families – get over it.

    September 2, 2008 at 4:03 pm |
  27. Jolene

    I agree. I also find it interesting how everyone is speculating. Who are we to judge people's parenting skills? If the issue is Abstinence vs. Sex Ed, then let's debate that and why did the mods have to place a pic of Bristol on this blog posting? Was that really needed? Of course, I remember when Bush's daughters were exploited for their drinking and partying. But then again, they turned out ok. This will soon pass (I hope).

    Jolene, St. Joseph, MI

    September 2, 2008 at 4:00 pm |
  28. Carrie, CO

    Your right on Amy – much of this all stemming from a society where women are used for a variety of purposes and it's rare in the political arena that they can transcend that and recieve the respect they deserve.

    It's too bad John McCain didn't use his VP selection as an opportunity to create a teachable moment for our country that a woman's value is beyond her anatomy. Instead – he picked Palin and used her as a last ditch effort for votes. If he valued a woman beyond that – he had a field of highly experience and capable women to choose from, you arguably have a great deal more national experience than Palin...

    September 2, 2008 at 4:00 pm |
  29. suki

    No respectable parent should allow their child to be put in the spotlight like this – if this is an example of Palin's judgement we are in big trouble

    September 2, 2008 at 3:59 pm |
  30. Debrah

    To focus on the other side, I wonder what Mr McCain was thinking when he ask Mrs Palin to run as VP? He knew she had a 4 month baby and her young daughter was about to have a child. How do you think that conversation went? I think she's needed at home more than the white house. If he wanted a women to run with him he should have considered her family and picked a women with no children or grown children.

    September 2, 2008 at 3:52 pm |
  31. Leanne Schimpf

    We can fight about our (USA) morals..or lack of, but how will the teen pregnancy play out to the world community...especially those countries that do not condone this behavior?

    The WH has to project some values that represent the USA. Many of those values have been lost, but each candidate 'expresses' a desire to get them back.

    Are we now choosing which values we will pursue, and which ones are now up for discussion?

    September 2, 2008 at 3:50 pm |
  32. Carol Ann

    If there is blame to go around lets not blame the mother but the young woman who is pregnant and I am not trying to blame anyone...

    "However, her mother threw Bristol into the spotlight when she decided to accept the VP nomination. If I were 17 years old and having a baby out of wedlock , I would be so angry at my mother for doing this to me."

    Bristol is old enough to understand that her mother is in politics and should have had enough respect for herself much less her parents by putting herself and her family in this situation. So, Bristol did it to herself and there is no one else to blame.

    Birth control is too good today if used correctly and if she were truly using it she most likely would not have gotten pregnant.

    September 2, 2008 at 3:46 pm |
  33. Melissa, Los Angeles

    I'm sure Bristol knows how a person gets pregnant. I just don't think she thought it would happen to her like millions of other woman – young or not. I think it's the fault of the parents to have not given her any direction or goals in life that she has all this time to screw around literally and figuratively. I'm glad the media's all over this because usually the coverage is not as much as when it involves a Democrat.

    September 2, 2008 at 3:44 pm |
  34. Paul from Ohio

    Backing off the family and the young lady, there are two positions which merit comment and comparison.

    On sex ed, Gov Palin supports an “exclusionary” position. That is, abstinence-ONLY at the exclusion of other sex-ed. On the issue of teaching creationism alongside science, Gov Palin seems to be less exclusionary, saying, "Teach both. You know, don't be afraid of information. Healthy debate is so important, and it's so valuable in our schools. I am a proponent of teaching both." To say that both options should be taught in our schools cannot – absolutely cannot – be cast in the light of open, balanced, ecumenical thinking (as the spin-doctors would have you believe).

    However, on this issue, choice is NOT an option – you either believe the world is millions of years old or you CHOOSE to ignore the advance of scientific discovery over the last century. As opposed to aspiring to have leaders in higher office that are deeply thoughtful around complex issues, on this issue at least, Gov Palin has chosen to avoid any thoughtful consideration around a pretty simple one.

    September 2, 2008 at 3:44 pm |
  35. AC

    Had this been (God forbid) one of Obama's kids, young, single and black, would the 'other' party been as insightful and understanding OR as I suspect the "values" and parental oversight of their home been in question.
    Double standards are rampant on this issue.

    September 2, 2008 at 3:43 pm |
  36. stef

    And we all know that birth control works 100% of the time.

    September 2, 2008 at 3:37 pm |
  37. Maria

    It's disheartening to have "excuses" made for lack of morals in our youth. 17 unmarried and pregnant is not a reason to celebrate. What is happening to this country?

    September 2, 2008 at 3:34 pm |
  38. Paul

    Dear CNN
    OK you've had your fun, seeking the truth and conveying it to the public. Now leave it alone and don't wallow in it.

    September 2, 2008 at 3:33 pm |
  39. Marlon

    Shame on you Amy. You cannot compare what two consenting ADULTS do to two teenagers. Edwards is not running for vice president so bringing him up is irrelevant.

    As far as Bristol Palin is concerned, Obama says she's off limits to the campaign but the media are going to drag her around like a neglected rag doll. But it's not the daughter who should be criticized it's her ultra-conservative mother, who apparently wasn't aware that her child is sexually active.

    September 2, 2008 at 3:25 pm |
  40. Dani, Seattle

    Man oh man, if Obama's girls were teenagers and one of them was pregnant it would be a republican heyday of all heydays- they would be absolutely relentless. Hannity and O'Reilly would be slobbering all over that. The hypocrisy is so deep, this country is drowning in it.

    September 2, 2008 at 3:24 pm |
  41. mark hoffman, Phoenix AZ.

    Don't take my tax dollars and shove abstinence down my throat when it does not even work for your own family, Sarah.

    September 2, 2008 at 3:23 pm |
  42. Kristin, Texas City Texas

    I am amazed that Gov. Palin would subject her child to this kind of scrutiny and criticism. As a mother I would do anything to protect my children and it seems to me that she had placed her own ambition and political aspirations ahead of that. It seems selfish and self-serving, not the attributes we normally associate with parenting. I do believe that women can do it al, career and home, but at what costs? Bristol's situation and decision are her own and to be left out of the fray, but Sarah Palin's are not. And yes if this was a man, a father of small children, one an infant, who had a pregnant teenage daughter at home I would say the same thing, his family is crying out for his time and attention.

    September 2, 2008 at 3:21 pm |
  43. Carol

    It is very hypocritical for anyone to criticize Governer Palin or her family for her daughter’s pregnancy. As a parent you can educate your children about their choices and exercise good values in your home. At some point your children are going to go out into the world and make their own choices. A good parent is there to guide them through those choices and to support them if they make a mistake. The media is wrong to assume that in the Palin household did not have adequate discussions about premarital sex or contraceptives. They are wrong to assume that because Governor Palin thinks it that sex education should happen in the home and not in the schools, her daughter ended up pregnant. Governor Palin has done the right thing by standing by her daughter during this difficult time and not hiding her from the media. This family has chosen to embrace this child instead of taking the easy road that 1.37 million Americans are taking by having abortions. According to Planned Parenthood, in 2002, approximately 757,000 U.S. teenagers ages 15–19 became pregnant. Are all of the parents of these children bad parents? No way!! It is naïve to think our children will not make mistakes. Obama himself did drugs, an illegal substance, through high school and college. Why is no one appalled by this?

    September 2, 2008 at 3:21 pm |
  44. An American Voter

    Does the phase "leave family out of it" not mean anything to the media.I have chosen to turn off your station & any other news station that doesn't want to comply with this statement.I will not watch any news coverage that involves any family bashing.I have written to every media company that I see continuing to do this kind of press.I will not help with your ratings.I feel this should be about our future leaders not their family.There are families that have to deal with this same problem at home and they deal with it the best they know how.I'm sure it is hard enough to go to school being pregnant but to have your name blasted all over our country's news all day & night has to put more on her than needed.She has no obligation to explain anything to us.Keep her out of your press.This is my choice not to watch this kind of coverage and I hope others will follow that feel the same way.

    September 2, 2008 at 3:21 pm |
  45. Susan

    This is absolutely a family matter. Bristol made a mistake. Now she and her family are working through dealing with that. Anyone who has ever found themselves in this predicament, knows that the hardest decision to make is to keep the child. She has made that choice.
    I have even more respect for Sarah Palin in light of how she has responded to this personal situation. She's one incredible woman, and I can get behind her!
    If this is how the media chooses to attack the different candidates, then it's no wonder the people of our country have lost so much faith in the media.

    September 2, 2008 at 3:20 pm |
  46. Kristy Chapel Hill, NC

    Comprehensive Sex Ed is a must in this country. Sarah Palin just proved that!

    September 2, 2008 at 3:19 pm |
  47. missy

    Sounds like Sarah Palin wasn't teaching sex ed at home either since she doesn't want it taught at school.

    September 2, 2008 at 3:15 pm |
  48. Dave

    Like mother, like daughter. I'm not sure why no one is talking about this, but here we go....... Apparently, Bristol Palin is following in her mother's footsteps. If you do the math, you'll find that Sarah Palin's first child (son Track Palin) was conceived out of wedlock. Sarah and her husband were married in late August, 1988. Their son Track was born in April, 1989. Meaning, Sarah Palin and her husband conceived their son Track sometime around June, 1988 (a good two months before they were married). So, did Sarah Palin and her husband elope because as she put it, "they didn't have enough money." Or, did they elope because Sarah was already pregnant? It seems that Sarah Palin isn't being quite honest with the American people. Did the McCain camp do a thorough job of vetting Palin?

    September 2, 2008 at 3:13 pm |
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