War in Iraq and Afghanistan, Iran’s nuclear ambitions, Russia’s invasion of Georgia, the fragile economy, health insurance … Who knew the 2008 election would center on sex education?
Sarah Palin’s pro-life beliefs took center stage, when John McCain picked her as his running mate. The governor and her husband had rejected abortion after learning their baby would be born with Down Syndrome. Announcing Trig’s birth, Palin called him “absolutely perfect.”
It’s estimated 90 percent of parents choose abortion rather than raise a child with Down Syndrome. To some, Palin’s choice seemed extreme.
Then, to quell bizarre rumors, Palin announced that her 17-year-old daughter is pregnant — and engaged to be married to her 18-year-old boyfriend.
Teen pregnancy happens in every sort of family, but it’s uncommon these days for a middle-class girl to reject abortion and get married while still in high school. Again, the Palins were out of the mainstream.
A nation turned its leering eyes to the Palin family. A debate ensued: Was “abstinence-only education” to blame for the pregnancy? Does “comprehensive sex ed” work? Did Bristol Palin have a choice?
Actually, Alaska schools don’t teach abstinence only, notes the Anchorage Daily News.
The state requires that abstinence be “stressed,” but not to the exclusion of comprehensive sex education, reports the Kaiser Family Foundation.