Wednesday, September 3, 2008

The Bristol pregnancy in a larger social context

(Bristol Palin is the 17 year old daughter of Alaska governor and presumptive vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin.)
Bristol Palin has a fairy tale existence for her pregnancy. Her parents have ample resources to assist in the care and raising of her baby. Her mother is a state governor; her father is a high salary oil industry employee. So, of course, keeping her baby is no problem.

Public health experts in children's health inform us of the great importance of pre-natal and neo-natal care for children and for their mothers. We can only applaud the fact that Bristol will get support from her parents. Yet, what is the situation of those teen mothers that receive shame from their own parents? What of those teen mothers who do not have powerful parents and are quickly abandoned by the men that sired the babies (we can't say father since they fled the mother and baby)?

The mothers in these latter two groups are left all on their own. A moment for joy and celebration is one in which they will have to bear the weight on their own, with limited resources. So, again, pre-natal and neo-natal care is essential for children and their mothers. This care is crucial for the long term physical, social and mental vibrancy of the young children. This is an area in which our government fails young mothers. By contrast, this is an area in which other industrialized countries excel. (Particularly, witness the Scandinavian countries for their health and social policies for lower income mothers.)

Let's look at how Governor Palin has acted in her leadership of Alaska, on funds for teen mothers. In her characteristically Republican penchant for keeping down social services spending, "Palin Slashed Funding for Teen Moms," as Paul Kane in "The Washington Post" reported. Kane reported on September 2, 2008 that Palin used her line-item veto to reduce funds that Alaska gave to Covenant House by twenty percent. Kane noted that Covenant House's website states that their mission is to
"young mothers a place to live with their babies for up to eighteen months while they gain the necessary skills and resources to change their lives" and help teen moms "become productive, successful, independent adults who create and provide a stable environment for themselves and their families."

We all support families. Let's remember what "supporting families" really entails. Is the Republican Party truly the party of "family values"? -Or is the party merely giving lip service to this ideal? We must note that Palin is insensitive and inconsistent in her support for teen mothers.


Palin also cut funds to a Fairbanks Alaska foodbank for Thanksgiving, 2007. Also, see this source. Here are additional notes on slashing of social service spending in May, 2008.

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