Sue Ontiveros: Bristol Palin shows why abstinence-only doesn’t work

SHARE Sue Ontiveros: Bristol Palin shows why abstinence-only doesn’t work

Bristol Palin in 2012. (Photo by Todd Williamson/Invision/AP, FIle)

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Bristol Palin doesn’t need my sympathy.

The 24-year-old made that very clear when she set the Internet afire by revealing Thursday once again she is pregnant and unmarried.

“I do not want any lectures and I do not want any sympathy,” the mother of 6-year-old Tripp wrote in one of the bleakest impending birth announcements you’ve ever read.

OK. Got it.


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Having a pregnancy scrutinized by the world is not new territory to young Palin. At age 17, she, baby daddy Levi Johnston and their teen pregnancy literally were center stage at the 2008 Republican convention when her mother Sarah Palin was chosen as John McCain’s running mate.

Her engagement to Johnston ended — twice — and the two have been in a nasty custody/child support dispute. Young Palin’s May wedding to former U.S. Marine Dakota Meyer was called off a week before it was to take place with no explanation. And now she’s going to be a mom on her own again and says, “I know this has been, and will be, a huge disappointment to my family, to my close friends, and to many of you.”

But I’m following young Palin’s orders: She’s not getting my sympathy.

Do you want to know who is, though? The young women who listen to Palin and others who push abstinence as the only way to avoid pregnancy. (For those who may have forgotten, Palin was a paid as a spokesperson to promote teen abstinence.)

I’m talking about the females who end up pregnant after getting brainwashed by the hare-brained notion that you can’t talk about sex or protection — not only from pregnancy but also disease — because that will make young people run out and have sex. Study after study has proven that does not happen, that in fact knowledge delays teens from engaging in sex and prevents pregnancies.

Right or wrong, we live in a society that has sex in front of us 24/7. Movies, music, social media, game shows for crying out loud — the conversation and actions constantly revolve around sex.

And if we’re going to be awash in sex, we better arm our young women — and yes, our young men — with practical ways to protect themselves.

But we don’t. Instead we’re hung up on this abstinence-only philosophy, which is all too fuzzy. Just say no didn’t work in the “war” on drugs and it’s not adequate protection here, either. No one bothers to mention to young people the pleasure factor; that once they’re intimate at any level with someone — especially someone they care for — their bodies are going to have a hard time saying: Let’s stop before it’s too late.

There’s this whole wishful, fantasy-like attitude attached to the abstinence message that’s always been evident in interviews with Bristol Palin. She’s admitted to Fox News’ Greta Van Susteren abstinence was “not realistic,” yet kept pushing it, never with any specifics on just how to approach it. Wait 10 years, until you’ve done what you want to do, she has said more than once. How?

On Monday, Palin tried to backtrack, claiming the pregnancy was planned. OK, it’s still better to have a viable plan on what contraception you and your partner will use. So that one day you aren’t writing a blog post that includes a passage like Palin’s: “Honestly, I’ve been trying my hardest to keep my chin up on this one.”

No one should be in that boat. And that’s exactly where the idea of abstinence-only too often leads.


Twitter: @sueontiveros

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