Yesterday, Bristol Palin, daughter of former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, announced that she is expecting her second child. But unlike most public baby announcements, hers was loaded with shame and regret. In a statement on her blog, the former “Dancing with the Stars” contestant and author said:
“I know this has been, and will be, a huge disappointment to my family, to my close friends, and to many of you…But please respect [son] Tripp’s and my privacy during this time. I do not want any lectures and I do not want any sympathy.”
It’s no mystery that the first time Palin was pregnant, the timing was inconvenient and stressful. She was only 18-years-old, and her mum was running for vice president. Now at 24, with an income and several years of parenting experience under her belt, should she really need to announce her baby news in such a seemingly ashamed way? (Bristol didn’t name the father in the statement — she and her former fiance, Dakota Meyer, called off their wedding in May.)
Sure, she’s about to take on more responsibility with a second child. We can also assume based on the tone of the announcement that the pregnancy wasn’t planned (if it was, it’s clearly regretted now). But, no matter what the circumstances, isn’t every baby a blessing? Furthermore, a second pregnancy in her mid-twenties does not nullify the work she has done to help prevent teen pregnancy in the U.S.
Statistics from the US Department of Health & Services reveal that teen birth rates are on a steady decline since the 1990s; there’s been a 10 percent decrease between 2013 and 2012 alone. MTV’s “Sixteen and Pregnant” and “Teen Mum,” which both depict the hardships of becoming a mum while still in high school, have helped to prevent teen pregnancy, according to a 2014 study. Palin’s memoir, Not Afraid of Life, has contributed to the conversation in a positive way as well. Scroll through the reviews on Amazon and you’ll see some people saying that they plan to use the book as a teaching tool for their own children.
It’s not my place to dig through the layers of family drama that might be unfolding surrounding a second unplanned pregnancy for Bristol. But, she has used her public status in the past to inspire and shed light on an important issue in order to help others make more informed decisions.There’s no reason to think that she can’t continue to utilize various media platforms to help prevent teen pregnancy.
Furthermore, in addition to her request for respect and privacy, I think that Bristol should expect congratulations, too. Bottom line: At the heart of this entire issue, we are talking about an innocent human life. That baby deserves to be celebrated no matter what Bristol’s parents (or critics) might think.