In ordinary circumstances I would say- you bet. Leave the kid alone she’s a young kid and she deserves her privacy. But when your mother is the Governor of Alaska and the Republican candidate for Vice President of the United States, one might wonder how the Governor’s daughter’s behavior might be influenced by the policies that the Governor supports.
Governor Palin supports abstinence only programs. Alaska does not have a law that governs sexuality education; therefore, schools are not required to teach sexuality or sexually transmitted disease (STD) education. And the Department of Health and Social Services and community-based organizations in Alaska received $752,346 in federal funds for abstinence-only-until-marriage programs in Fiscal Year 2007 according to a recent report by the Sexuality Information Council of the United States (SEICUS).
According to a 2004 Washington Post report, many American youngsters participating in federally funded abstinence-only programs have been taught over the past three years that abortion can lead to sterility and suicide, that half the gay male teenagers in the United States have tested positive for the AIDS virus, and that touching a person’s genitals “can result in pregnancy,” a congressional staff analysis has found.
Those and other assertions are examples of the “false, misleading, or distorted information” in the programs’ teaching materials, said the analysis, released yesterday, which reviewed the curricula of more than a dozen projects aimed at preventing teenage pregnancy and sexually transmitted disease.
In providing nearly $170 million next year to fund groups that teach abstinence only, the Bush administration, with backing from the Republican Congress, is investing heavily in a just-say-no strategy for teenagers and sex. But youngsters taking the courses frequently receive medically inaccurate or misleading information, often in direct contradiction to the findings of government scientists, said the report, by Rep. Henry A. Waxman (D-Calif.), a critic of the administration who has long argued for comprehensive sex education.
Several million children ages 9 to 18 have participated in the more than 100 federal abstinence programs since the efforts began in 1999. Waxman’s staff reviewed the 13 most commonly used curricula — those used by at least five programs apiece.
The report concluded that two of the curricula were accurate but the 11 others, used by 69 organizations in 25 states, contain unproved claims, subjective conclusions or outright falsehoods regarding reproductive health, gender traits and when life begins. In some cases, Waxman said in an interview, the factual issues were limited to occasional misinterpretations of publicly available data; in others, the materials pervasively presented subjective opinions as scientific fact.
Among the misconceptions cited by Waxman’s investigators:
• A 43-day-old fetus is a “thinking person.”
• HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, can be spread via sweat and tears.
• Condoms fail to prevent HIV transmission as often as 31 percent of the time in heterosexual intercourse.
One curriculum, called “Me, My World, My Future,” teaches that women who have an abortion “are more prone to suicide” and that as many as 10 percent of them become sterile. This contradicts the 2001 edition of a standard obstetrics textbook that says fertility is not affected by elective abortion, the Waxman report said.
And in April 2007 national study has concluded that abstinence-only sex education, a cornerstone of the Bush administration’s social agenda, does not keep teenagers from having sex. Neither does it increase or decrease the likelihood that if they do have sex, they will use a condom.
“The explicit sex-ed programs will not find my support,” Palin wrote in a 2006 questionnaire distributed among gubernatorial candidates.
McCain’s position on contraceptives and teen pregnancy issues has been difficult to judge on the campaign trail, as he appears uncomfortable discussing such topics. Reporters asked the presumptive GOP presidential nominee in November 2007 whether he supported grants for sex education in the United States, whether such programs should include directions for using contraceptives and whether he supports President Bush’s policy of promoting abstinence.
“Ahhh, I think I support the president’s policy,” McCain said.
When a reporter asked McCain whether he thought contraceptives help stop the spread of HIV, he replied: “You’ve stumped me.” McCain said later that he was sure he opposed government spending on contraceptives. Asked whether he would oppose condom distribution if he knew that condoms stop the spread of sexually transmitted diseases, McCain said he had never gotten into those issues before.
The McCain campaign on Monday did not respond to repeated requests for information.
In Senate votes, McCain has opposed some proposals to pay for teen-pregnancy prevention programs. In 2006, McCain joined fellow Republicans in voting against a Senate Democratic proposal to send $100 million to communities for teen-pregnancy prevention programs that would have included sex education about contraceptives.
In 2005, McCain opposed a Senate Democratic proposal that would have spent tens of millions of dollars to pay for pregnancy prevention programs other than abstinence-only education, including education on emergency contraception such as the morning-after pill. The bill also would have required insurance companies that cover Viagra to also pay for prescription contraception.
McCain voted for the Family Support Act in 1988, which passed overwhelmingly in the Senate and required teen mothers who receive public assistance to remain in high school and, in some cases, to live with their parents.
“Young parents who have not completed high school will be required to stay in or return to school to complete the basic education so necessary to a productive life,” said President Reagan, as he signed the law in October 1988.
McCain cited abortion, sex education and birth control as some of the issues on which he differed with Joycelyn Elders, former President Clinton’s nominee for surgeon general. He quoted Elders as telling lawmakers that abortion has had positive health effects, including reducing the number of children “afflicted with severe defects.”
“As a father of a number of young children, including an adopted daughter who was born with a birth defect, I am deeply, deeply troubled by these views,” McCain said in a 1993 speech opposing Elders’ confirmation.
Palin’s fifth child, a son named Trig, was born in April with Down syndrome, a genetic abnormality that impedes physical, intellectual and language development. Conservatives supportive of Palin as McCain’s running mate have praised her choice to deliver Trig even after the family learned about his condition during prenatal testing.
McCain said the country unarguably had a problem with teen pregnancy, but said Elders’ approach would only make it worse. He said Elders started a program to distribute condoms in schools, but the rate of teen pregnancy actually rose in those counties. When it turned out many of the condoms were defective, Elders decided to continue the program rather than halt it or inform the public of the risk, McCain added.
So given the Governor’s policies and that of her running mate- the Governor has put her daughter’s teen pregnancy into the spotlight. Hypocrisy should always be exposed. Governor Palin clearly supports policies that do not even work within her own family.