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May 9th, 2009
05:03 PM ET

Bristol Palin: the new voice of abstinence?

Curbing teenage pregnancy.

This week Bristol Palin, the daughter of Alaska governor Sarah Palin, set out on a media blitz to promote abstinence. The 18-year-old is perhaps the country's best-known unwed teen mother.

So how effective can she be? Will it really help to prevent other teenagers from becoming mothers too soon?

Fredricka Whitfield spoke with Brenda Rhodes Miller with the DC Campaign to prevent teen pregnancy to find those answers.

What do you think? Will Bristol be effective? If not, who or what will?

Filed under: Fredricka Whitfield
soundoff (9 Responses)
  1. Patty

    One very important problem and downside of teen pregnancy Bristol didn't talk about was the difficulty of the life-long relationship with the father, legal and social and emotional – her relationship with Levi to work together to raise their child will require much commitment and many hardships and may involve other family members, as well. The relationship between her and Levi and their relatives may become strained over the years. She didn't want to talk on camera about this – but it is the reality of the parent-child relationship they will be facing together for at least 18 years, if not many more.

    May 10, 2009 at 12:23 am |
  2. Kath

    No, she lost credibility when she got pregnant. Her area of focus should be support & awareness for teens who have babies. Leave the abstinence to someone who sets a better example.

    May 10, 2009 at 9:17 am |
  3. Genevieve Poladian

    Bristol and Levi are a beautiful couple that didn't last very long after their son's birth regardless of the fact that they were engaged and planning marriage. She may not be a good spokesperson for abstinence BUT is an excellent example to girls who think a baby is going to help them keep their boyfriend and that they will live happily-ever-after. Many of these girls may not be fortunate enough to have the family support that Bristol does and will truly find themselves alone. Perhaps the best and most realistic message she could offer is safe-sex: no baby (before you are truly ready) and no STD.

    May 10, 2009 at 12:06 pm |
  4. Carol

    Ms. Palin will never know a hungry day because her parents didn't throw her out when she announced she was pregnant. Her child will never know a hungry day. Her message should be simple: If you're going to have sex, and you will, use birth control. If you're not going to have sex before marriage, you still need to know about birth control.

    This message would be much better coming from individual parents who know and love their children. Ms. Palin will not make a difference with teenagers. Her message is abstinence and that simply is not realistic.

    May 10, 2009 at 12:14 pm |
  5. John

    If Bristol Palin had been using birth control she wouldn't have gotten pregnant. Her situation proves the entire argument that it's important to teach about contraception since people aren't always abstinent.

    Whether or not someone has sex is a personal decision, I'm sure Bristol heard all about abstinence and waiting until marriage but she still didn't. That's why it's important to have access to contraception because the plain and simple facts of reality show us that people have sex regardless of whether they're married or what arguments they've heard about it their entire life.

    Bristol Palin out there speaking in support of abstinence is having an effect, it's showing people that the abstinence only message is unrealistic and unsuccessful.

    May 10, 2009 at 2:20 pm |
  6. Jared

    why is nobody saying how bristol palin is a loser, who is NOT doing anything good. she just got pregnant and now she is talking about abstinence? ARE YOU SERIOUS?
    will someone please tell her what a contradictio that is? and teens KNOW how good sex feels, and wont listen to her contradictory ass!
    GIMME A BREAK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    May 10, 2009 at 2:34 pm |
  7. Alex

    All this story shows is that preaching abstinence for the most part does not work and that children need to be taught about contraceptives so that way they don't turn out like Bristol. Bristol said, "regardless of what I did personally, I just think that abstinence is the only way you can effectively, 100 percent foolproof way you can prevent pregnancy." and using a condom during intercourse is a 98 percent foolproof way to prevent pregnancy. I think i will just have to chance it with that 2%, cause apparently abstinence doesn't work and contraceptives do. This is why Bristol is a mother, and i am not a father yet at the age of 20 regardless of my active sexual life since the age of 17.

    May 10, 2009 at 2:36 pm |
  8. Garry

    While discussions by parents with teens regarding sex is important, the reality is most parents are uncomfortable about talking sex with correct and informed information that teens are already more familiar with.

    The key we find in our Youth & HIV issues program is to take the "cuteness" out of having a baby and "romance" out of pregnancy; combine it with the realities of STI's (sexuality transmitted infections) and you have an effective sexual deterance program. Teens aren't thinking about STI's. Parents aren't thinking about STI's.

    When you talk about these STI's, the 40 varieties of HPV, HIV, AIDS, Gonorehea, Syphillis, Clamydia and hosts of other infections, that reality does sink in with teens. In fact, the majority of teens actually say "they are not ever going to have sex", when frank, open discussions about sexual reality is talked about. We've talked to hundreds of teens and find this to be fairly consistent.

    It goes to confirm all the studies that real, open discussions about sex and sexual diseases, combined with committment & relationship talk, actually works as a deterant without relying only on "abstinence only" discussion which have been proven not to work.

    The "Abstinence Only" programs are why most states have withdrawn from Federally Funded Health programs as the data shows that it is not working. Teens are resourceful, informed and more willing to listen to adults as well as peers having real discussions about sex when combined with talk about sexual transmitted infections.

    I suggest everyone try this open informed discussion with your teens. You'll truly be surprised with the results when you talk openly and honestly. Parents need not be afraid of talking about sex with their teens, as long as you combine it with STI discussions. Teens are having sex because nobody is talking reality. Let's have faith in our kids!

    May 10, 2009 at 2:46 pm |
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