In 2006, as a gubernatorial candidate, Sarah Palin filled out a questionnaire emphasizing her support for abstinence education. She wrote that “the explicit sex-ed programs will not find my support.” Alaska does not require sex ed to be taught in schools; Anchorage schools teach “Abstinence Plus,” which emphasizes abstaining from sex.
Palin’s views came under fire when it was revealed that her then-17-year-old daughter Bristol was pregnant. In her first public interview, Bristol told Fox News’ chief Palin cheerleader Greta Van Susteren last night that abstinence is “not realistic at all”:
VAN SUSTEREN: I don’t want to pry to personally, but I mean, actually, contraception is an issue here. Is that something that you were just lazy about or not interested, or do you have a philosophical or religious opposition to it or…
BRISTOL: No. I don’t want to get into detail about that. But I think abstinence is, like — like, the — I don’t know how to put it — like, the main — everyone should be abstinent or whatever, but it’s not realistic at all.
When Van Susteren asked Gov. Palin, who joined the interview, about abstinence, she seemed similarly dismissive of her former views on abstinence, admitting, “It sounds naive.” Bristol added, “I just — I hope that people learn from my story and just, like, I don’t know, prevent teen pregnancy, I guess.”
Yet despite its record of failure, conservatives continue to beat the drum for abstinence-only education. Last week, Republicans were angry that “essential” abstinence education funding had been “eliminated” from Obama’s recovery and reinvestment bill. A Republican report on the bill expressed its concern “that while abstinence education receives only $176 million annually…contraceptives and family planning already receive $1.6 billion of federal funding.”