Teen Mom Bristol Palin Speaks Out Against Abstinence

The reality of teen pregnancy hit American hard this summer when news surfaced that John McCain’s running mate Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin’s unmarried high school daughter, Bristol Palin, was pregnant.

Was it possible that a young girl whose mother was such a firm proponent of abstinence-only education was actually pregnant?

As it turns out, it was and Americans quickly came up in arms to both defend and challenge the effectiveness of programs that preach abstinence.

Now, in her first interview since giving birth, Bristol Plain sits down with Greta Van Susteren of Fox News for her show “On the Record” and tells America that abstinence-only education is “not realistic at all.”

The 18-year-old who gave birth in late December to son Tripp says that having a child is not “glamorous at all” and “kids should just wait.” She has to balance school and homework while taking care of a baby that is up half the night and that’s just for starters.   

 “It’s not just the baby that’s hard. It’s just, like, I’m not living for myself anymore,” she says. “ It’s, like, for another person, so that’s different.”

Fortunately, Bristol has been blessed with a large family that is willing to help her out so she can stay in school and get an education and a partner who is a supportive and involved father. Other young girls are not as lucky. 

In the long run though, Bristol does not regret her decision to become a mother, but realizes that her situation is not ideal.

“Of course I wish it would have happened in 10 years so I could have a job and an education and be like prepared and have my own house and stuff … I don’t regret it at all I just wish it would have happened in 10 years rather than now.”

She hopes other teenagers will learn from her story and that by sharing it she will help prevent other teenagers from becoming pregnant. It was Bristol’s idea to do the interview with Fox (she didn’t tell her mother she was doing it until the day before) as she plans to be an advocate to prevent teen pregnancy and it looks like she won’t be following her mother’s platform of abstinence (“[it’s] not realistic at all.”) – halleluiah!  

From the interview it is clear that Bristol is a teenager – a girl who should be hitting the books and finding another word for “like” instead of changing diapers and doing midnight feedings. Her story can serve as an example to other teens that having sex has consequences even in the best of circumstances (supportive family and partner, economic stability) and to politicians, like her mother, that abstinence-only education programs do not work and should not be funded.

At the close of the interview Gov. Sarah Palin made a surprise appearance during the interview and said,

“Let me put it this way I think Bristol is kind of an example of truly it can happen to anyone. Bristol [is a] great athlete, great student, great aspirations that she had for herself, plans that didn’t include a baby of course but it did happen to her and now again less than ideal circumstances but we make the most of it.” 

It can and does happen to anyone which is exactly why abstinence-only programs are so dangerous.  Bristol is proof that these programs don’t work whether you get the message at school, at home, or both. 

The truth of the matter is that teen pregnancy rates in the United States are rising. Now more than ever, we need to equip teens with all the information necessary to protect themselves from unplanned pregnancies. That means teaching about abstinence and methods of contraception – condoms, birth control pills, IUDs, and emergency contraception. Without these tools young women will continue to become mothers far too soon. 

If teens won’t listen to their parents or teachers, maybe they will start to listen to their peers, to teens like Bristol, who share their stories about the hardships that motherhood entails. 

Photo by Anthony Easton (PinkMoose) used under a Creative Commons license.


Ina C.
Past Member 7 years ago

I am so glad I ran into this article. I just wrote about the fact that abstinence is a VALID form of contraception, and our teenage girls are not hearing that message because adults themselves see it as an unrealistic option for them. Let me know what you think: http://www.thedailygetup.com/down/the-questions/why-does-america-abstain-from-abstinence

troy H.
T.L. H8 years ago

In a few years when they are married none of this will matter anyway.

troy H.
T.L. H8 years ago

Many men I know are abstinent well into their 20's and 30's.Rape and molestation are horrible crimes and against the law,but I do not know of any parent giving their sons or daughters condoms or birth control just in case they are raped.I doubt it would help anyway,I do not think if someone was about to rape someone they would stop to put on a condom.And of course if a man,woman,or child is raped they are still abstinent if they have chose to not have sex but it was forced onto them.I do think that parents should tell their children what sex is and that it can lead to pregnancy/std's and that birth control/condoms can help prevent them.

Terence Nelson
Terence Nelson9 years ago

Well, interesting bunch of comments. My few cents worth...

- parents should start to take responsibility again (how about THAT for a concept?) and answer their children's questions calmly, without getting all hung up and embarassed. Sex is a part of life, for goodness sake!

Once the basics are out, school can fill in the gaps.

- Mother Nature does not have 'legal ages'. This is a manmade concept. How about a litle common sense here? "Do this and the consequences may be this - have you thought the situation through and how best to handle it?" Useless dogma has no place.

- The religious basis for abstinence/virginity before marriage is basically old tribal tribal customs where women were viewed as chattels and barterable goods. If the girl was not a virgin, she was 'used' and therefore of no value and a stain on the 'honour' (a misnomer, if ever there was one) of the family.

We may be in the 21st. century but many are stuck back in tribal customs of thousands of years ago - in spite of the modern trappings.

Kozure Okami
Randy L Benson9 years ago

Children shouldn't have to suffer for the ignorance of their parents.

Bristol did good.

Elizabeth G.
Elizabeth G9 years ago

I think her daughter was brave to come out and comment.

To Troy H: It is easy for a man to tell a woman to be abstinent, but what about men learning to keep it in their pants? What about women being raped and child molestation? How can they be abstinent?

Julie W.
Past Member 9 years ago

To speak out against abstinence only education makes Bristol a far more realistic girl than her mom.

Chris C.
Chris C9 years ago

Brave girl! I see mom had to stick her nose in, though.

Janakie B.
Janakie B9 years ago

Young should be educated that sex and love are too different things; not the same. You can have sex without love and love without sex.
Anyway humans are animals too but in the highest order.
It is very important to realise then in what ways biologically, emotionally and behaviouraly, humans become different from other animals.
No one can blame Bristol.
She has just responded to the environment she had been brought up in a very natural way.

troy H.
T.L. H9 years ago

I called it the best way because when abstinence is used it is 100% effective against std's and pregnancy and nothing else is.