Bristol Palin on abstinence: What’s not to like?

It looks like good news:  Bristol Palin says that abstinence only for teenagers  is not  realistic.   Anecdote meets the facts and they agree! 

That’s another blow against the policy advocated by US political conservatives like her mother.   Sarah Palin  ‘oppos[d] programs that teach teenagers anything about contraception. “The explicit sex-ed programs will not find my support,” she said in answering a questionnaire from the conservative Eagle Forum during her 2006 gubernatorial race. ‘

But what’s not to like is that Bristol Palin doesn’t seem to see having sex as a matter of choice.  Opposing abstinence-only education doesn’t mean giving up on  abstinence.  In fact,  there’ s been evidence available  for decades now that ‘explicit sex education’  programs, particularly combined with discussions of health and values and access to medical treatment, can raise the average age of sexual relationships, along with lowering  pregnancy rates and disease rates. 

 Behind the scenes in this discussion, then, appears to be  another conservative fallacy:  inferring from someone’s opposing a restriction to their endorsing what’s being restricted (or endorsing the subject of the restricted discourse).  Here are two instances:  If you are pro-choice, then you are pro-abortion.  (False!)  And:  if you oppose abstinence only education, then you endorse teen promiscuity.  (False!) 

In short, B Palin’s thought may be just an instance of this fallacy:  abstinence only education fails people like me, so teens are promiscuous.  And such a thought might be one of the sad results of her education. 

OR she’s launching a gigantic excuse.  “Hey, the sex wasn’t my choice and so the pregnancy was not my fault, given my mother’s views.”   And how could she have any better understanding?

5 thoughts on “Bristol Palin on abstinence: What’s not to like?

  1. And note also how insistent she is that it was a choice to have the child, and no less than her choice.

  2. Finally–Someone who tells it like it is.–No more Slobering Love Affair of the New “Instant Wealth and World Peace” Bragade. The Palin’s (both of them) are a breath of fresh air.

  3. Rob, nice point. Having a choice is fine, as long as its restricted to choosing the right alternative.

    It seems to me that there’s quite a gap between what she thinks went on with her ‘choice’ and any psychologically realistic description of what really could have gone on.

  4. Yes, I think the way in which Palin and her daughter have spoken about each of their (most recent) pregnancies illustrates an interesting tension among mainstream — that is, non-fanatical — conservative ‘pro-life’-ers between their first-order opposition to abortion and their professed commitment to ‘individual responsibility’. The latter needs the latitude afforded by the right to have an abortion in which to exercise itself.

  5. “Behind the scenes in this discussion, then, appears to be another conservative fallacy: inferring from someone’s opposing a restriction to their endorsing what’s being restricted (or endorsing the subject of the restricted discourse).”

    Ding ding ding! You win the prize. Strange, too, that this particular confusion should happen to people for whom the matter of choosing is of such importance: choosing health care, choosing which school their children should attend, choosing how to spend their money – heck, even sexual orientation is a choice in many of their views. And yet they would be shocked if you told them they must, by virtue of endorsing choice in these matters, also endorse spending one’s health care budget on cigarettes, sending children to madrassas, or being anything other than straight. As I say, strange – but not surprising, at this point.

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