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Bristol Palin: 'Abstinence Didn't Work for Me!'

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Hoping to set an example for others with her own experience, Alaska Governor Sarah Palin's daughter Bristol would like to become an advocate for preventing teen pregnancy.

bristol palin and levi with trig

"Everyone should wait 10 years," the younger Palin told Greta Van Susteren on a FOX News segment that aired Monday night. "I hope people learn from my story ... It's so much easier if you're married, have a house and career. It's not a situation you want to strive for."

Palin, 18, also said in the interview -- her first since the teen made headlines last summer during Sarah Palin's GOP vice-presidential campaign -- that her mother's view of abstinence, especially in regard to teenagers, is "not realistic at all."

Bristol further stated that although her mother is an outspoken Right to Life advocate, "It was my choice to have the baby. It doesn't matter what my mom's views are on it. It was my decision."

Recounting how she first informed her parents, Todd and Sarah Palin, of her condition, Bristol said she gathered her boyfriend, Levi Johnston, and her best friend, but that getting the words out of her mouth was "harder than labor."

The friend broke the news to the parents, said Bristol, who also described Johnston as a "hands-on dad." She added, "Eventually we'd like to get married."

As for her new situation, "I like being a mom," said Bristol. "I love it, just seeing him smile and stuff. It's awesome."

Appearing late in the interview, carrying her grandson Tripp Johnston, Gov. Palin said, "Hey, life happens." Of her unwed, teenage daughter's pregnancy, she said, "Not the most ideal situation, certainly you make the most of it."


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42 comments so far | Post a comment now
Gwynne February 17, 2009, 12:11 PM

The fact that she raised a daughter that is comfortable expressing different opinions from her has greatly improved my view of Sarah Palin!

I was a teen mom. I was 18 when I got pregnant with my son, 19 when I had him. I was in college when I got pregnant, and I dropped out because I couldn’t see how I was going to raise a son and go to school at the same time. I wish I’d stayed.

Anyway, I think Bristol is right. As much as we should be encouraging abstinence in teens, we also have to be realistic and know that not all of them are going to abstain, no matter how much we encourage them to.

Sexual education must be well rounded, including both abstinence and birth control education. I’m glad that someone as high profile as Bristol Palin is being realistic and saying that abstinence only education isn’t going to work because teens are going to do what they are going to do.

Rachel February 17, 2009, 1:50 PM

I agree with the respone made by Gwynne (above). I hate to say that abstinence is unrealistic, but it’s true. I agree with teaching abstinence to ym daughter when she is old enough, but also agree with sex education as far as birth control goes and everything along with it. If she chooses to have sex before marriage than I will strive to teach her about safe sex. Life defnititely happens..like Sarah Palin said, even when the sitaution isn’t “the all american dream”…you have to make the most of it and see it as a blessing instead of a burden.

formerteenmom February 17, 2009, 2:44 PM

Yeah, Most of Sarah Palin’s views are unrealistic… Good luck Bristol, you will need it.

Stacy Sabala February 17, 2009, 2:57 PM

I agree with the comments. I am a teacher in a public school that teaches abstinence. We have had several teen pregnancies. Sex education is almost a taboo. As an educator it angers me that parents continuously believe my child won’t have sex. So I think birth control should be taught as an option, not a sign of condoning the act.

Former Baptist Anon February 17, 2009, 3:00 PM

I was raised in a ‘total abstinence’ religion. It worked for me, but at the price of my being extremely lonely and later, extremely backward socially by the time I reached adulthood. Luckily I found another super strictly raised male virgin to marry. But a good friend of mine who was raised similarly was not so lucky. She suffers socially even now, and she’s over forty. In short, I think abstinence can only work if the vast majority of your peers are on the same page. Such was the case in Victorian times and even as current as the 1950’s. But now? I’m a parent, and I wouldn’t want to subject my son to a pariah lifestyle, regardless of how it might keep him out of trouble for a short time. There are long term consequences that I think abstinence pushers don’t realize exist in these modern times. Such as, the hurdle adult virgins face when they’re suddenly not teenagers anymore and their dates expect them to have at least five years experience in the bedroom.


Milla February 17, 2009, 8:57 PM

Abstinence absolutely works if you use it. I know that some parents (and I don’t know the case here, so i’m speaking in general)are just hard on their kids in everything so they get to the age where they feel like no one can tell them anything and they do any and everything they feel like they’re big enough to do which doesn’t stop at unprotected sex. I believe that a balance has to be found while children are yet young so that they won’t want to go that way; so that they’ll know that there are other things they can do for entertainment or if they’re bored. The lines of communication should be open between children and their parents so that they can freely talk to their parents about such a topic as sex. The commercial that says take time to think holds true. Your virginity should be the one gift that you should have reserved for your husband.

Uly February 17, 2009, 10:06 PM

Milla, proponents of abstinence are fond of quoting the failure rate for various types of contraceptive. And they’re right, any form of contraceptive has a failure rate.

But they they claim that abstinence is 100% effective.

Except it’s *not*.

Oh, it is if you never mess up, never make a mistake, never end up having sex… but kids being kids - and, more correctly, being *human* - sometimes they make mistakes and do things they might regret. And all those teens who attempted to be abstinent and failed due to simple human failings, all of a sudden they’re not counted as having use any method at all! It would be more honest to count them among people who intended to be abstinent, but did not achieve that goal, laudable though it may be.

And when it’s done, far better they regret it a little, because they were educated about safe sex, than that they regret it a lot, because they *weren’t* in the misguided notion that ignorance would somehow keep them safer!

(As far as reserving my virginity for my husband… eh, I think whoever that guy is (should I ever even decide to get married!), he’ll just have to settle for a tie.)

mercaties February 17, 2009, 11:09 PM

Seriously people! Bristol Palin is eighteen she’s not fifteen. Last time I checked eighteen was a legal adult. I was eighteen when I had my first child. I’am now twenty seven and have three. I don’t regret for one second having my first so young. A friend of mine is 32 and just had her first child and all she does is complain about how “old” she’ll be if she has any more. My point is that times are different now Bristol is an adult, she’s not a young girl.

Bec Thomas February 17, 2009, 11:37 PM

It’s a matter of biology, we have a huge drive to have sex before we even reach marriage age. Abstinence only is unrealistic, always has been, we should spend more time making sure people are aware of how to prevent disease and pregnancy. I’m glad to see Bristol is speaking up about this long standing problem.

Kirstie February 18, 2009, 1:11 PM

Abstinence education is a great thing - when presented as the best option out of a lot of other options, because it is realistically the BEST plan. However, it’s an unlikely plan, which makes abstinence only education, leaving out the other options, a terrible plan.

And for quoting those success rates and abstinence as 100% … what about the Virgin Mary? She was abstinent .. went real great for her. 99.99999% effective, maybe?

mathomas February 21, 2009, 10:49 AM

bristol, wake up the father is not marrying you…that just one of the lines that is appropriate to say at the time…join the single mothers group.

mathomas February 21, 2009, 10:57 AM

If the father does marry Bristol after so long persuation and guilt, the marriage is destined to fail.

B Booker April 21, 2009, 1:14 AM

Abstinence only doesn’t work because nothing ONLY EVER WORKS.



Children making the decision to have sex are not doing so because they saw ONE TV program. It’s because they are bombarded by sexuality in music, TV, at school, friendships, magazines etc.


Unfortunately the bombardments occur at a time they are least likely to be able to handle it; the early teen years.


Make no mistake having children inside a marriage is the goal. I don’t care how many folks are single parents, I pity you. I did not have my kids until 36 and 39 as I did not marry until 35. I wouldn’t be a never been married parent to save my life.


Abstinence education can work if combined with supervision, honest discussion of sex education, STDs, a spiritual backdrop to the advantages of celibacy, a restriction of exposure to sexual images on TV, music etc.

Let’s also face another reality—if the goal of abstinence is no sex until after marriage, if the failure allows someone to delay sex as long as possible, I see it as a partial success.

To have a boy or girl so significantly alter their life because they are being driven by their hormones alone is sad. Children alter your life in a positive way for the rest of your life. That alteration should happen when it is planned, and when the parents are willing and able to make that sacrifice. It should not be forced upon you at 12, 16 or 18 because no one is there to help keep your hormones in check.

The reality is most parents are far too lazy to do what it takes to limit TV, book, internet and magazine exposure. Parents suddenly think 16 is the age to begin letting go and the opposite is true.


I don’t care about Sarah Palin’s children and what they do. The only reason it’s news is because she aligned herself with the holier than thou right and she got caught. Her daughter is now one of those ugly single parents just like those in the ghetto they so like to look down on. NO DIFFERENT.

She’s a classic babymama.

If she ever marries she will have a messy family with kids by different men.


Personally do I care? Not one iota. Just glad it’s not me.


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