ParentingReligion

Saving Bristol Palin

Earlier today, Hemant over at FriendlyAtheist.com posted about comedian Doug Stanhope’s new project. For those of you who don’t know who Doug Stanhope is, he’s the less funny of the duo “Doug Stanhope and Joe Rogan” who got The Man Show‘s sloppy seconds after Adam Corolla and Jimmy Kimmel left to have careers. In keeping with his theme of making a career off comedy that’s head-scratchingly unfunny, he started the site Saving Bristol where he is trying to raise $25,000 for Bristol Palin to get an abortion and move out of her parents’ home.

Rather than sit back and impotently bemoan Bristol’s tragic, lonely circumstance, it is time for us – the silent majority – to unite behind this poor, imprisoned woman and save her from both a tyrannical household as well as the horrible nightmare of a forced childbirth.

These are not empty words. I, Doug Stanhope, am offering you, Bristol Palin, the sum of 25,000 dollars so that you can abort your child and move out of that draconian home. I have also set up a PayPal link so that others around the world can help increase this amount to ease the burden of starting out on your own at such an early age.

I’m not sure how to feel about it. It makes me angry, sick, confused, offended, and sad.

Part of me wants to believe that Stanhope really wants to try to help her.  But I can’t help but be offended at his assumption that she’s being forced into having this child or that she’s making the wrong choice.

And I’m so much more than offended to think that we should be paying-off unwed pregnant women to have abortions.

My guess is that Bristol won’t take the money.  It’s doubtful that the only reason she’s choosing to have this child is for her mother’s politcal gain or because she’s being held hostage by Christian parents.  In fact, it’s doubtful that either of those were even considerations in her decision.

The reality of it is that it would be better for her mother’s career and image if Bristol quietly terminated her pregnancy early. No one would know and Sarah Palin could show off her pristine, beautiful, Christian, abstinent children.  An unwed pregnant teen in a neo-conservative, fundamentalist Christian household means calling in the PR team and paying them overtime. It’s more likely that this is truly Bristol’s choice.

Lots of teen girls choose not to have abortions.  And they make that choice on their own. Is it the best choice for them?  I don’t know.  Probably not.  But as someone who is not the mother of a pregnant teenage girl, it’s not my place to offer bribes, pay-offs, or unsolicited advice to any pregnant teens.

Aside from assuming that somehow money is an object for Bristol and that $25,000 is enough to support a family of 3, Stanhope makes some pretty arrogant assumptions:

I was once in a similar situation where I’d accidentally impregnated a girl and she had to make that same fateful decision that now faces you. It was easy for her – she didn’t have a fascist, oligarch parent, the entire Republican Party or the sneering eyes of the Christian Right to contend with, much less a daft, puppet boyfriend who’s just waiting for the cameras to stop rolling so he can bolt like a gazelle.

I’ve never had an abortion.  I’ve never gotten pregnant unintentionally.  I do know women who have.  The decision is rarely described as being “easy”.  Maybe it was for Stanhope’s girlfriend after realizing she’d give birth to a child genetically predisposed to epic douchebaggery, but for most women it’s not so cut and dry.

Some women later affirm that it was the best decision they ever made, some women spend the rest of their lives doubting and regretting their decisions.  But I have no doubt it’s a difficult and even heart-wrenching decision. But choice is the really important half of the term “pro-choice”.

In the end, I wish this wasn’t the path she chose for herself.  Parenting is tough.  However, I support her decision and hope for nothing but the best for Bristol, her boyfriend and her baby. I wish nothing less than a joyful, rewarding life with their child.

As for Stanhope, he has a plan even if she refuses his money.

Even if you cannot take my offer, I will still use my money or money donated through this page to pay for at least one abortion for a disadvantaged teenage girl each year for the rest of my life in the name of your mother. And in my will, I shall have a good portion of my estate turned into the Sarah J Palin Abortion Fund that will help girls from all walks of life from destroying their lives and our natural resources by having children.

Wait, Doug, I thought you were against using a “poor, imprisoned woman” for “megalomaniacal self-promotion” and agenda pushing? Or is that just when you don’t like the agenda or the person promoting it?

Elyse

Elyse MoFo Anders is the bad ass behind forming the Women Thinking, inc and the superhero who launched the Hug Me! I'm Vaccinated campaign as well as podcaster emeritus, writer, slacktivist extraordinaire, cancer survivor and sometimes runs marathons for charity. You probably think she's awesome so you follow her on twitter.

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159 Comments

  1. I really doubt that Bristol Palin had any “choice” in this matter. I would be surprised if she didn’t think she would be killed by her family if she aborted the fetus. Saying that I think Stanhope’s stunt will simply aide McCain and I don’t like that at all.

  2. There is no way, no way at all, that Sarah Palin could survive Bristol Palin having an abortion. People would find out, they already knew in Wasila, and I doubt Palin is dumb enough to think that she could keep it a secret. And if she tried to, and it came out, she’d be crucified… on top of which, she might actually believe what she says about abortion. All of which adds up to it being pretty unlikely that Bristol Palin is even in a position to make a choice, psychologically.

  3. I do think you’re projecting a bit much in a feministe style tirade to work up some outrage.

    Is it or is it not easier for a woman with access & support to have an abortion than for a woman who doesn’t?

    Besides that, how can anyone support the decision of a 17 year old to be a parent? That is one of the poorest choices a person can make & it is severely going to handicap the 3 involved throughout their lives.

    It ranks as stupid as “I support your decision to drop out of school”.

  4. Guys,

    this issue about Bristol rasies the ugly head of abortion and politics. I honestly wish it hadn’t have happened, at least nto the media going wild about it.

    But as a Stanhope fan there’s little doubt in my mind that this is a stunt, a joke, albeit a bizarre one. Whether he’s succeeded with this or not is a different matter.

    He’s feriously pro-choice and all his comedy cuts to the bone, abortion jokes or other wise.

    RH

  5. @mxracer652:

    I do think you’re projecting a bit much in a feministe style tirade to work up some outrage.

    Or maybe I’m actually really angry about this.

    I became sexually active in high school. At the time, I was firmly in the pro-life group. I knew that if I got pregnant, I would not have had an abortion. No way, no how. And I wasn’t brainwashed or strong-armed into that. In fact, there are a good number of women who are firmly in the pro-life camp who, as a personal choice could never go through with an abortion.

    It is Bristol’s choice. It’s her body and Stanhope is an asshat.

    @sethmanapio:

    It’s not like everyone in Wasilla knew before she even took a pregnancy test. And it’s not like getting an abortion means publicly marching into a building clearly marked ABORTIONS HERE!

    You don’t have to go to “the abortion clinic” to get one. You can go to your primary care doctor or your ob/gyn.

  6. Wow, why all the Stanhope bashing? He’s one of my favorite comedians… does that make me a douche by extension? I’m open to the possibility, but… jeeze. Elyse, I think this may be the first time I actually vehemently disagree with you, or any member of the Skepchick crew. I think it’s fairly clear that the whole aim of the website (which was clearly cobbled together by a drunken Doug in about 15 minutes) is to be satirical, or at least to be taken with a grain of salt. Doug’s not an idiot, he knows Bristol will never go through with his offer. ‘Saving Bristol’ is on the same level of seriousness as his run for president in 2008… it’s essentially an inside joke for his fans. And frankly, bribing a woman to have an abortion IS pretty harsh, but it’s no further out of bounds than anything in his stand-up act.

    By the way, calling Stanhope less funny than Joe Rogan in your introduction is the definition of poisoning the well… frankly I’m rather disappointed in your underhanded tactics ;)

  7. From the media performance surrounding Bristol Palin I can only say that she seems happy to be pregnant. I would prefer it if the child had not been thrust into the media spotlight by her mother’s decision to stand as running mate to McCain and that we not sit in judgment over her. None of us know her feelings for thoughts on her pregnancy.

    If we are speculating about a person in the same situation then that is a different matter but this girl has not asked to be held up as an example of abstinence only education gone wrong. Doug Stanhope seems to be putting his own ideas onto the media figure of Bristol Palin and second guessing her feelings. The available evidence, filtered as it is through popular media, does not support the idea that she is trapped in a family who are forcing her to carry an unwanted child to term.

    That said I would, in principle, provide funds to assist other girls in seeking abortions if that is their choice. I wouldn’t presuppose that Bristol Palin is either in need of funds or desires them for this purpose. The idea is presumptuous and insulting, not just for her but for all girls faced with such a decision.

  8. i’m still working out how i feel about all this…
    i have to say, coming from a religious family i know how much influence the family’s opinion can have over a person’s decisions. the money aspect would only serve to magnify the family’s sway.

    you say that they may have actually wanted her to have an abortion, but i don’t know that i’m cynical enough to go with that. like seth said, if that came out, it would be political suicide.

    the first thing i thought when i read this story was that while it may be distasteful and presumptuous, (if she hasn’t indeed been free to choose herself) maybe it will enable bristol to actually make a decision on whether or not to have a baby (whatever that decision ends up being), and not on whether or not to alienate herself from her financial support system, etc. and yes, i realize that $25,000 is probably a drop in the bucket compared to the money her family has, but it’s something.

  9. I was just making an observation that I rarely EVER see adoption mentioned in cases with unplanned pregnancies.

    I manage a young parents group, and take an interest in theses sorts of things (having become a parent at 17). The two “options” that dominate this area are “abortion” or “pregnancy and keeping the child.”

    Even in your post, Elyse, I was hoping you would mention something about Bristol choosing adoption. Because that is an option. Obviously, Palin’s campaign is harmed by a pre-marital pregnancy, but is helped with the pro-life angle. If they chose to give Bristol’s child up for adoption, it would still have the pro-life angle, with the “Bristol made a mistake, and we are upholding family values” angle.

    Anyway, mostly, my point was that I barely ever see adoption mentioned in these cases. I agree that assuming this girl is being forced into anything is dastardly. Having been in her position, I am confident she wants to have the child (you know, loving her boyfriend, wanting to feel prepared for big-girl life).

  10. @mxracer652:

    I disagree entirely.

    And you contradict yourself. You acknowledge that the Palins should be affluent enough to get Bristol an abortion. However, their very affluency is what will make her having and keeping a child EASIER.

    She has money, she will have healthcare for both of them, they will be able to afford childcare. Bristol will have no trouble attending school. Bristol is in an ideal situation (on the surface) to have outside support in raising an unexpected child!

    If Sarah Palin weren’t going to be so busy with her hubub, she would be just like the rest of the majority of American grandparents who end up being the providers for their children’s children… and the Palins happen to have plenty of resources to do so.

    P.S. Getting pregnant has little to do with education (in middle class America). Don’t get it twisted, yo..

  11. @Ooxman:

    As a satire it says to me “look at how stupid the pro-choice group is”.

    It’s offensive and it’s poor taste at best.

    I can still love you even if we disagree on what you think is funny.

    @carr2d2:

    It’s not uncommon for politician’s personal lives to conflict with their public image. Dishonesty is part of the game. Not to mention the idea that “this case is different” or that making one exception right now is better for X movement in the long run.

    Even if that weren’t the case, a parent’s thoughts on abortion tend to change when it’s their own little girl getting knocked up. That’s not cynical, that’s love. And I’ll bet you it happens way more than you realize. Surely, it’s only anecdotal, but I’ve been amazed to see some pretty ardent pro-lifers rushing their daughters off to un-do a bad decision.

  12. @Tina:

    Yes. Exactly. Why adoption is never mentioned baffles me. Seriously, that kid would be adopted in record time. Some wealthy McCain supporter would catch the thing as it entered the world, I bet. Everyone wins.

    But I have to play Xenu’s advocate here and defend Doug Stanhope… the sad truth is, adoption is a lot less funny than abortion.

  13. @Tina:

    I’ve often wondered that, too, Tina. The choice is often presented as “keep it” or “don’t have it”.

    But I also realize that at least 1/3 of the time, women making an adoption plan ultimately end up deciding to parent. So, even if a woman decides to have the baby not keep it, she needs to prepare herself for the reality that she very likely may change her mind.

  14. I would never go through a pregnancy and then give the baby up for adoption. Then you have to spend, literally, the rest of your life worrying if the kid is being treated right, if they are going to try to find you later, if they will hate you for not keeping them, etc. etc. Much easier to just terminate the pregnancy and not worry.

    That, in my opinion, is why it’s never mentioned. Adoption does not mean everybody wins.

  15. Elyse, I disagree with about everything you said in your original post, and in followup comments (except about Stanhope not being particularly funny – right on the money with that one).

    In a small community like Wasilla, it’s highly probably that a public figure like the gov’s daughter cannot quietly get an abortion. She may not be able to walk into her gp or obgyn’s office and get it done – medical professionals in a small community (and, from all accounts, a heavily religious community) may refuse to do abortions, or insist that the parents be involved.

    I do not believe Bristol had a choice, unless you consider “going against your strong-willed, public parents and everything you were ever raised to believe in” a choice. Once she was pregnant, there was only a tiny chance that Bristol might have chosen to abort the fetus, given her upbringing. It would have been like the child a fundamentalist preacher admitting he’s gay (which I do know happens, but it’s rare). And again, if the clinic insisted on the parents knowing… that would have been the end of it.

    Somehow, the boyfriend agreed to marry Bristol, even though he stated on his (now removed) MySpace page that he never wanted kids. Clearly, Palin gets people to do what she wants.

    And in addition to all that, I think we should absolutely provide a fund for pregnant, unwed teens to get abortions. I’ve seen way, way too many teenagers mess up their lives having kids too early, and way too many messed up kids as a result.

  16. @Elyse:
    Perhaps ‘satire’ was a poor choice of words. Forgive me, I’m extremely tired this morning. This is not the time for me to be making points on the intertube. My interpretation of the site is basically the same as yours, except I think he’s making a valid point. He’s probably not genuinely convinced that Bristol wants an abortion but is unable to get one, he’s probably making the point that there’s lots of women -like- Bristol with parents -like- Sarah (except those parents probably didn’t introduce fierce anti-abortion legislation in their hometowns). His tactics with this site are similar to when he bashes religion in his act… he essentially calls everyone who believes in a god a mindless, primitive asshole. It doesn’t mean he’s right, or that he even believes what he’s saying, it just means that he’s exercising his right to free speech, and making a living off it in the process.

    “It’s offensive and it’s poor taste at best.”

    Ummmm… yeah. He’s a comedian.

  17. I admit to being fairly torn on this issue as well. I understand what Stanhope is trying to do but I think his methods are tacky and tasteless at best, hypocritical at worst.

    My biggest issue is that he’s making assumptions about how Briston feels and what her situation is, personally. And based on that and his personal ethics and view, he is pushing her towards a decision.

    How is that any different from what he is accusing Sarah Palin of? He’s basically saying ‘it’s OK for me to push you into this decision because MY side is the CORRECT side.’

    Sorry, I don’t buy that. I do have similar concerns that an overly-conservative family is going to push someone away from an abortion. But that’s what pro-choice means, last time I checked. It’s about allowing the individual to consult with the people closest to them and to make their own decision.

    I don’t think anyone has the right to weigh in on whether this is the right or wrong decision for Bristol unless they are either Briston herself or someone who Bristol trusts who she is asking for help. Like it or not, she has the right to that, just like anyone else.

    And why is Bristol special? Do you think there are not thousands of other teen pregnancies that end up having the kid because of what their families say or even are forcing on them? Why single out Bristol? This is a publicity stunt and a failed attempt at humor and that’s the other reason it leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

    And also, @Tina – great point about adoption. It KILLS me how rarely that is ever brought up as an option.

  18. You know, in some ways, this thread reminds me of those epic battles between the right and the left when a supposedly anit-Christian, or anti-Jesus movie hits the marquee: The religios start raving and ranting about how sick, offensive, and socially damaging the movie is; the atheos rave and rant right back about how narrow-minded, unaware, and socially stifling the religios are, and then it turns out that 70% ot the folks on both sides haven’t even seen the bloody thing.

    Hey, Elyse, I’m not saying you haven’t heard/seen this guy’s juvee skit — clearly you have; you quote it.

    What I am saying is, is it really worth the fluster and the bluster? Do you think this comedian, whoever he is, carries any kind of meaningful weight in society that his skit is going to do anything more than stir up a bunch of silly and impotent hornet’s nests?

  19. @Zoltan:

    And in addition to all that, I think we should absolutely provide a fund for pregnant, unwed teens to get abortions. I’ve seen way, way too many teenagers mess up their lives having kids too early, and way too many messed up kids as a result.

    One comment here: Stanhope has said that if she does not take him up on the offer, he will donate the money to the Lillith Fund (in Sarah Palin’s name). Again, good concept, bad methodology. Again, this smacks of a publicity stunt rather than a true attempt to help someone.

    In addition, nobody is saying that it is not important to provide funds for women to get low-cost abortions. But Stanhope isn’t sending the message “Hey all teenage girls, here’s the Lillith Fund, be aware of it and by the way, Bristol, you should be aware of it too.” He’s targetting one particular woman and basically telling her how to make a very personal decision based on speculation about her situation. I don’t really care if he’s 100% correct in his speculation. It’s still up to her.

    Now, if he was sending her information about the Lillith Fund and trying to get her more educated about her options, I would probably feel differently. I would also feel differently if he came at this targetting teen pregnancy in general, vs. this particular girl. But he hasn’t.

  20. @Zoltan:

    My point was that she probably would have the blessing of her parents. I could be wrong. I also believe that this is probably her choice. Again, I could be wrong. But, it’s not Doug Stanhope’s place to drag her into it to make his point. I’m not wrong on that.

    @Masala Skeptic:

    I am 100% behind helping fund abortions for women who want/need them but cannot afford them.

    Abortion is a right we are fortunate to have here in the US. I wish more women had access to it and fewer women were guilted into not having them.

    @Ooxman:

    True, it’s your choice. However, I’m on the fence about pro-choice meaning having the right to choose to watch Dane Cook stand up.

    This divorce is going to get ugly. I’m fighting you tooth and nail for 100% custody of the dog!

  21. @Ooxman:

    Again, he’s a -comedian-.

    But this isn’t part of his stand up routine. This isn’t fantasy. It’s him actually making a serious pledge to send real money to Bristol and encouraging others to do the same. He doesn’t want to show a photo of Bristol with money photoshopped into her hands. He’s making a serious offer about a very serious, life-changing situation. And if he’s just kidding around, doesn’t that make it WORSE? She’s a 17-year old kid.

    You can’t say ‘he’s just kidding around.’ He’s

  22. @Ooxman:

    “My girlfriend and I didn’t get an abortion because we weren’t ready to have a child… we just really wanted to see what it was like to kill a baby.”

    See, that’s funny. Tasteless and offensive can be funny. In the case of Saving Bristol, he only delivered on the two former.

  23. Ooops – missed a tag close there. Here’s what I mean to respond:

    But this isn’t part of his stand up routine. This isn’t fantasy. It’s him actually making a serious pledge to send real money to Bristol and encouraging others to do the same. He doesn’t want to show a photo of Bristol with money photoshopped into her hands. He’s making a serious offer about a very serious, life-changing situation. And if he’s just kidding around, doesn’t that make it WORSE? She’s a 17-year old kid.

  24. It’s obviously a joke, so it shouldn’t be taken seriously. What is important is the issue of choice. I can speak from experience being the child of parents that did not want children, no one should ever have to grow up the way I did. They had no choice, so my parent did “the right thing” and raised my sister and I because they had to. There was no want and for as far back as I remember I knew how little interest they had. I don’t know if anyone else here has had their father say to them ” You know if you were to move out and I was to never hear from you again that would be fine with me.” that’s just not the kind of loving parental advise you want to hear when you’re a kid. So having a the kid because you’re supposed to is not a good enough reason. Maybe it’s just me.

  25. @teambanzai:

    ” You know if you were to move out and I was to never hear from you again that would be fine with me.”

    Ouch. My dad constantly joked about kicking me out at 18 (which he never did do, I’ll be kicking myself out at 27) but he was never malicious in his statements. Sounds like your childhood sucked.

  26. I’m with Elyse on this. The joke cited about killing a baby is funny, and nothing else about this website or offer is funny.

    If the website is satire it’s bad satire. It feels much too much like an angry, presumptive call to arms clanging in the public square at the expense of a 17 year-old girl. If a satirist is bad enough that very few people get it, what’s the difference between him and an *actual* asshole?

  27. Actaully, I feel sorry for Bristol.

    The chances of her having a “normal” life for someone her age was already derailed by the pregnancy. Now, due to her mother’s questionable decision to accept the VP nomination, she is firmly in the limelight and may well regret it soon, if she doesn’t already.

    Add that to just being a member of what appears (to me, at least) to be a very dysfunctional family, and it looks like a pretty sad life for her.

  28. @writerdd:

    Getting back on track, writerdd, you are right. Adoption is hardly an “everybody wins” decision.

    I’m not anti-adoption, but most people have a very Pollyanna view of what adoption is really like.

    In fact, it’s a topic that I think is ignored in skepticism but really should be discussed.

    Brian and I had a very hard time getting pregnant. At one point, we gave up trying completely and started the adoption process. One of the classes we had to take discussed the reality that yes, there are benefits involved for everyone in the adoption process, but at some point everyone loses as well.

    I’ve been wanting to discuss this for a while, but it’s on my docket of 100 other posts I intend to write. I had the chance to talk about it with a group of people when I was in NYC, but I was too drunk to remember what anyone else had to say about the subject.

    (*sigh* the life of a Skepchick)

  29. @Elyse: I am from a really, really small town. If she would have an abortion, I’m willing to bet someone would have found out. She probably would have confided in a friend, for one. News travels FAST in small towns.

    I honestly don’t think abortion was an option for her, period, for many reasons. One may be because of HER personal beliefs, but I think you’re naive if you don’t think her mother.family, and her mother’s position didn’t have anything to do with the decision to have the baby.

    And the shotgun wedding? Likely NOT Bristol’s desire.

  30. @Zoltan: And not only that, but just because you go to a doctor and they aren’t SUPPOSED to say anything, doesn’t mean they won’t say anything to say, their spouse. And then their spouse tells their best friend. And then the best friend tells their spouse. And on and on.

    Having grown up in a small town, I know all to well that nothing, especially anything juicy and having to do with family drama, can remain a secret. I mean, hell, my mom was sent to the hospital from a drug overdose, and even though I live 2.5 hours away, I still had a text message telling me my mom was being sent to the hospital, and my dad hadn’t even made it to the hospital himself, nor made any phone calls. (LOL, police scanners are heavily used in small towns.)

  31. @marilove:

    The small town comment is very appropriate. I’ve been to Wasilla on many occasions, and it harbors the very definition of small town mentality. I would be shocked if anyone could get an abortion in that town without everyone knowing. It’s hard enough to even be pro-choice anywhere in Alaska and not be frowned upon.

  32. @marilove:

    Wow, this just keeps getting more and more relevant… I’m from a small town in Alaska, my dad is a local doctor and I work in the media. EVERYTHING you just said is amazing accurate. My dad is constantly sharing ‘confidential’ information with me, and everyone at work has a police scanner.

  33. @Elyse:
    Would Stanhope still be an asshat if he started a “let’s get Bristol a GED” fund if she chose to drop out of HS? You still seem to be overlooking the fact that being a parent at 17 is the wrong decision.

    @Tina:
    I’m not talking levels of education attained, I’m talking about post secondary education to be able to earn enough money to support yourself & family, while being a parent.

    Very few people can accomplish that & not suck at one or more of the above 3.

  34. @mxracer652:

    If any girl has a moral objection to having an abortion, then having an abortion is the wrong choice for her.

    I’ve often heard women who’ve had unplanned, poorly timed pregnancies say that they wish the timing could have been better but they don’t regret their decisions to have and raise their children.

    I’m not saying it’s the best decision. But it’s her decision to make. I support a woman’s right to choose. That doesn’t mean she only has the right to choose the “correct” choice.

    And to compare pregnancy with finishing high school is a bit unfair. To have or not have a baby is a decision that can’t be undone. It’s an emotionally and politically charged topic, and making the wrong choice can lead to a lifetime of regret, and in Bristol’s case, she likely believes that having an abortion will condemn her to an eternity in hell.

    Dropping out of high school is stupid, but the consequences don’t have to be permanent and there are alternatives. Also, high school ends eventually. Choosing to finish high school is not choosing to stay in high school for the rest of your life.

  35. @mxracer652: My mom had a kid at 17 (and by the way, never finished high school). She had been married for a year, had 4 kids and is one of the strongest, smartest women I know. She has very few regrets and having kids at 17 is not one of them.

    Was it a different time? Sure. But that’s the point – people change as times change and it’s really unfair to make any judgements about what’s right or wrong for someone at a particular age based on nothing more than their age. To your GED example – is it always the wrong decision to drop out of high school? I doubt Bill Gates is looking back wistfully, wishing he coulda worn the funny robe and hat.

    There are no absolutes – this is purely about the individual and her choice.

  36. Is it really all about just her choice, Masala? That might be the case if she were the only person affected by the choice she makes. However, she is affecting her parents and siblings, just in her immediate circle. The ripples spread widely from there.

    Her age DOES matter in this case, IMHO. I don’t know of any 17 year old that is ready for parenthood. Your mother grew into the role and survived. Good for her. Was it the best possible outcome for a 17 year old? I don’t think so. What might she have done otherwise? What opportunities did she have to pass up because she had a child at 17?

    Now, I’m not advocating pro-choice or pro-life here. What I’m getting at is both Bristol’s physical and emotional maturity. Having a baby at 17 is not good for her in either sense.

    Your invocation of Bill Gates appears to me to be a case of special pleading. For every Bill Gates that didn’t go to college and succeeded brilliantly, there are thousands that did not. One exception does not a rule make.

  37. Wow, this is so ridiculous and offensive. While I’m sure that Bristol didn’t have any real choice in whether to have an abortion or not, it still is (or ought to be) her choice, and we ought to support her choice even if it’s not the one we think she should have made.

    Honestly, to me this stinks of sanctimonious scolding that only those we approve of should reproduce. I am very much against the idea in popular culture that being a teenage parent is the very worst thing evar, that teenage parents are to be blamed for every ill in the world, and the child couldn’t possibly grow up to be a healthy member of society. If a teenager is pregnant, she really does not need to be told her choice was the wrong one, whatever it was. She needs help and support to live a productive life from that point forward, which is still possible even if she chooses to keep the baby. Everyone, please go to girlmom.com for a bit more on this subject.

    And also, I agree with Elyse that adoption isn’t this easy, happy choice to make that we all think it is. The situation shown in Juno, for instance, is completely unrealistic. For most women (not all, but most) adoption is really an unthinkable decision- to go through the experience of pregnancy only to have your baby taken from you-many would rather have an abortion so they didn’t have to go through that process and worry about the baby the rest of their lives.

    That said, if you are looking to adopt you should definitely do open adoption because that is the best way to respect the rights of the mother and child-the mother can see her child when she wants, and the child grows up with no shame or mystery about where they came from.

  38. @QuestionAuthority:

    Is it really all about just her choice, Masala? That might be the case if she were the only person affected by the choice she makes. However, she is affecting her parents and siblings, just in her immediate circle. The ripples spread widely from there.

    I’m trying to stay out of this, but I just wanted to say that a girl shouldn’t have a baby because of the way it may affect her parents, siblings, or anyone else. It will affect no one more than it will affect her.

  39. I am known by my friends to have a sense of humor with very few sacred cows (pardon the expression), but I consider Stanhope’s site/offer to be kind of like the liberal use of profanity (a prior discussion on this blog from many months ago) – an easy, cheap shot at being a provocateur just to get attention, but not very funny.

    Abortion, adoption, or parenthood – in this circumstance, there are NO good choices where everybody wins. Stanhope’s comments (if he is half-serious) suggest that men should probably not be involved in that decision. Although I am morally opposed to abortion and I am entitled to my philosophical opinion on the issue, the decision-making is another issue altogether, and I am not the one who has to carry the baby for nine months or take serious risks to my health from giving birth (an acquaintance of mine died in childbird during a “routine” pregancy – yes, it still happens).

  40. @QuestionAuthority: Her choice, yes. And yes, it impacts her immediate circle and others. And those are the people who should be helping her make the decision. It really does not impact Doug Stanhope. Or you. Or me. And it’s not up to us to make an assumption one way or the other about what’s right for her.

    You may not know of any 17-year-olds who are ready for parenthood. That doesn’t mean that they don’t exist. I’m not advocating teen pregnancy by any stretch of the imagination. All I’m saying is that it is the decision of the girl and the people closest to her to make that decision. And it is wrong for us to speculate or say that they’re right or wrong in any absolute terms without being one of those people intimately involved in the situation.

    As for my Bill Gates example, there are others. (Michael Dell! Richard Branson! Steve Jobs! See them all at: http://www.pennylicious.com/2006/10/09/billionaire-dropouts/)

    But you’re right, one exception does not make a rule. I don’t disagree with that. I’m OK with saying “For the most part, it’s bad to drop out of high school” or “In general, a 17-year-old probably isn’t ready for parenthood.” What I’m taking exception to is you saying with absolute certainty that this girl’s decision is wrong.

    being a parent at 17 is the wrong decision.

    You can’t and don’t know that. She may be the exception to the generalization. She may not be. My point is, it’s not up to us to judge her personally because we don’t know her and we don’t know her personal situation. It’s her choice.

    Also, in my mother’s time, it was expected and NORMAL to have kids at 17. Most of her generation had kids before 19. Has humanity changed so much in just a couple of generations that all of a sudden it’s impossible to be physically and emotionally mature enough to raise children beyond 20?

  41. @Masala Skeptic & @QuestionAuthority:

    Besides, no one is ever really ready for parenthood. Sure, some people are more ready than others. But what is it that makes you ready? It is age? 18? 20? 21? 25? Is it money? Is it career? Or is it something else completely intangible?

    I’m 31. I am married. I am a homeowner. We make enough money to get by. And yet, even though I have a child, I hardly consider myself “ready” to be a parent. Admittedly, I am more ready than I would have been at 17 or 27, but every day I realize that there is no level of preparedness that actually makes you prepared for raising a child.

    And there are people, single-mothers included, who are inspired by their children to do things they never would have done otherwise. They dream bigger, work harder and aim higher that they would have otherwise because of being a parent. I’m not going to pretend that being a teen mom is a magic ticket to inspiration and success, but it’s also not a down payment on a mobile home in Depressionville.

  42. @ Masala: My older sister was a 17 year old that had a kid and a shotgun marriage. It screwed up her whole life afterwards. I still submit that it is not the best possible choice for any teen. Most teens will have a long painful road ahead of them if their adult life starts with a teen pregnancy. Yes, it’s her and her family’s choice to continue to have the baby. It was NOT her family’s choice for her to get pregnant at 17 – it was hers by her actions or inaction. Her family is dragged along by events, no matter which way they go. Having a child at her age WILL hold her back in ways that she cannot imagine – and I know all too well, having watched it happen.

    So what about Branson, Dell, etc? My point still stands. It’s still special pleading because there are so few of them in relation to the vast number of college dropouts and “never wents” that did not live up to their potential.

    @Stacy: What I was trying to get at is that this event and her decision(s) about it are not occurring in a vacuum. It’s more like a hand grenade exploding in her life and family’s life. I definitely agree with you that she will feel the affects the most, as she literally IS ground zero.

    I think that perhaps I’m trying to cross a too-wide generation gap, so I think I’ll bow out of this thread.

  43. Hmm, lots of Bristol this, Bristol that. Anyone thought at all about the babies father? Does he even have a “choice”?

    You know, women who get pregnant can often go have an abortion without telling anyone, including the father. Fathers do not generally have a say in when the baby if kept or not, but if they miss a payment they can be arrested in 30 seconds and labeled deadbeats for the rest of their lives.

    I agree, the Stanhope site is just, offensive, on many levels. For one, I see nothing in there that sounds like it wants to be funny. It sounds more like a preaching site to me…

  44. @Elyse: “And there are people, single-mothers included, who are inspired by their children to do things they never would have done otherwise. They dream bigger, work harder and aim higher that they would have otherwise because of being a parent. ”

    Although I am a single male with no children and therefore have no basis other than my own observations, you make a really excellent point that it not often stated. Often children do bring out the best in people.

  45. A lot of the comments are being incredibly stereotypical. Ok, QuestionAuthority, your sister’s life didn’t turn out so awesome due to her having a kid at 17- fine. On the other hand, i have several very close friends who had children at 17 and are doing extremely well- going to college, running a household, etc. So, again, there are no stereotypes and you can’t try to force any sort of absolute judgment on Bristol (or anyone else for that matter) based solely on what you have experienced or observed in your every day life. Like Masala said, there are no absolutes.
    Good decision for Bristol, bad decision for Bristol? None of us know, so why speculate? Discussion is one thing, but trying to come up with an answer (or worse, push for one’s opinion as being overall correct) is unproductive and counter-intuitive to skepticism in general.

    (P.S. I’m not picking on you specifically, QuestionAuthority; yours was just the most recent comment i read).

  46. @drew: Do you have any idea how hard it is to force a father to pay child support? There just isn’t enough funds or manpower to track down and force someone who has missed a payment (or 50 payments, or 200 payments). It’s usually left up to the mother to make sure the father pays on time; and, if the father doesn’t, the mother’s main option is to file a complaint and ::hope:: something happens to fix it.

  47. @drew: “You know, women who get pregnant can often go have an abortion without telling anyone, including the father. Fathers do not generally have a say in when the baby if kept or not, but if they miss a payment they can be arrested in 30 seconds and labeled deadbeats for the rest of their lives.”

    Yep. So either don’t have sex or wear a condom.

    On the larger topic, is anyone else reminded of Citizen Ruth?

  48. writerdd, that is BS. I don’t ever want to hear you or anyone with that attitude complaining about deadbeat dads.
    It takes 2 people to get pregnant. If the father is to have equal responsibility, he gets equal rights.

  49. @adrebellious:
    There are alot of fathers getting arrested, so the system works at least some of the time. BTW I am not defending deadbeat dads. I am however sticking up for the rights of fathers who want to be involved with their children.

    BTW do you know how hard it is to get the mother to prove all the child support money is actually spent on the child?

  50. @drew:
    BTW do you know how hard it is to get the mother to prove all the child support money is actually spent on the child?
    I have no argument there. The system is in shambles in most places, and on both the mother’s and father’s side of it.

  51. writerdd, that is BS. I don’t ever want to hear you or anyone with that attitude complaining about deadbeat dads.

    When have I ever complained about deadbeat dads? Maybe I’m overly negative, but I basically assume all dads will be deadbeats on one level or another. It’s the way our society works. Even the ones who pay money or don’t leave are deadbeats to some extent. Maybe there are 2 men in America who take equal responsibility for their children than the mother’s do, but I haven’t met them.

  52. @drew:

    Unfortunately, this is just a “life’s not fair” situation. There’s no way to give the father an equal say without impeding on the mother’s rights. She is the one who has to put her health and body at risk to carry the child.

    When it comes to adoption, both biological parents have to agree and sign off on the decision (in the US anyway).

    In an ideal situation, the mother and father make a decision together. The father should always get a say, but it’s impossible to let him make the final decision.

    It’s been said a few times, but I’ll say it again: there is no “everyone wins” outcome here. Someone is bound to lose.

  53. I actually fall on the side that says that if the father is going to be involved with the child, he should have a say in the decision. I include the father in the group of close friends and family who are the woman’s support system and who should be involved in helping her make the decision or giving her advice.

    And if the guy is going to be financially and/or emotionally responsible for raising the kid then yes, he should have a say in the matter. It is ultimately her choice, though. Carrying the pregnancy to term gives her veto power.

  54. @writerdd: “… I basically assume all dads will be deadbeats on one level or another. It’s the way our society works. Even the ones who pay money or don’t leave are deadbeats to some extent. Maybe there are 2 men in America who take equal responsibility for their children than the mother’s do, but I haven’t met them.”

    Wow … I wish I could reach through cyberspace and give you a hug on behalf of my gender. ;-)

  55. @writerdd:

    I basically assume all dads will be deadbeats on one level or another. It’s the way our society works. Even the ones who pay money or don’t leave are deadbeats to some extent. Maybe there are 2 men in America who take equal responsibility for their children than the mother’s do, but I haven’t met them.

    Woah, Donna. Are you seriously saying that there are no good fathers in America? And that men can’t be good parents?

    I am sure I’m reading that wrong.

  56. @writerdd:

    Please tell me you are kidding. That’s a pretty unfair thing to assume.

    Most dads love their kids very much and work hard to contribute to their families. And they are held to a much higher standard than they ever were in the past.

  57. I’m going to back writerdd up on this. I spend as much time as I can with my kids and contribute as much as I can to raising them but when they are ill and need time off school or something it is their mother who takes time off work. That’s just the price I pay for earning three times as much as she does. It’s unfair that she gets to be the primary care giver just as it’s unfair that I earn more because of my professional skills that I earnt when she was pregnant and the fact that I have testicles and no gender limit to my earnings.

    Boo hoo, I don’t think it makes me a bad parent but I do think it makes Hil a better one.

    On the subject of male rights in the decision on termination I have to add that I can have an opinion and state my case but it isn’t and should not be my decision what a woman chooses to do with her body.

  58. I think I’m tired of cringing whenever I see writerdd’s gravatar come up. I pay too much for this internet connection to put up with endless misandry.

    It starts with an ignorant, hateful comment about dads or some other male activity, then she’ll point a finger at every male who argues and shout I AM SO SICK OF ARGUING WITH MEN THEY’RE ALL SO VIOLENT.

    Rystefn might have been out of bounds with the comments that led to his suspension, but I doubt he was that hate-filled when he made them.

    But Donna is the invited guest here. I’m just a violent male observer.

    Happy trails, folks.

  59. Before this thread goes completely off the tracks I’d like to throw in that I’m a fan of Stanhope’s and I can handle the tasteless and offensive but I will not stand for unfunny.

    One last note before I resume my normal seni-lurking status: I think that this Stanhope situation is very similar to CrackerGate and I’m curious to see how people who supported PZ react to this.

  60. @hoverFrog:

    So doesn’t that mean you are contributing all that you can to your family?

    My husband is gone from the house 14+ hours a day while I stay home. He makes four times what I made before I got pregnant. So he works. He comes home and he helps with what he can around the house. He does the laundry, helps with the dishes. We split up cleaning duties on the weekend. He plays with Moose on the weekends and in the morning before he leaves for work. He does what he can. The fact that the in-home duties aren’t evenly split doesn’t mean he’s not contributing everything he can.

    If you went to work, then went out drinking every night afterward, came home and demanded a hot meal, never played with the kids or read them books and spent your weekends out with your buddies, that would be different than having to make a reasonable choice about who has to be home and who has to go to work.

  61. @hoverFrog:

    You do realize that bringing home a paycheck to feed your family and keep a roof over their head is part of parenting, right? A rather important part.

    Just because one parent has changed more diapers or cleaned more puke doesn’t make the other a “deadbeat”. Marriage, parenting and life don’t work that way.

  62. I can kinda empathise with hoverfrog. I know that by making sure that there are diapers and food that I am being a “responsible” parent, but on those nights that I miss bath time and story time I feel like I’m not being a “good” parent. (Note: I didn’t say I don’t think I’m a bad parent)

  63. Yes, I do. I’m also aware that we don’t spend anywhere like equal time with our kids. Do you really think that children care than I earn a lot of money to pay the mortgage and buy them cool stuff when I miss sports day or their school assemblies? I choose to spend my time providing for the material needs of my family over the emotional needs. It doesn’t make me a deadbeat but Donna mentioned equal responsibility and that is something that we don’t have. That’s why I overcompensate at weekends (when I’m not working) at treat them.

    I don’t see this as a terrible thing. I’m proud of being able to provide for my family. In a male dominated culture it makes me particularly manly and worthy in my peer group. I can beat my chest harder and bring home more from the hunt. I’m simply saying that I agree with Donna’s general point that woman tend to have the greater burden of care and greater responsibilites in raising children. I’m not going to claim that I have an equal role when I really don’t. I think that making such a claim would effectively belittle the efforts that my partner makes as a mother.

    Besides which I do make a contribution and take an active and enjoyable role in my kids upbringing. Just not as much as Hil.

    The fact that Donna phrased it in the way she did doesn’t make it any less true a statement.

  64. @writerdd: What a generalization, well I guess I will counter it with a very good friend of mine that has sacrificed the last seventeen years of his life for both his boys that are special needs.

    As for their mother she was happier fooling around with other men taking drugs, and generally ignoring her children.

  65. This is in reference to someone’s comment about Wasilla being a small town that probably does not have easy access to abortions or emergency contraception.

    I live there and I disagree.

    Wasilla is a suburb of Anchorage. Many, of not most, residents commute to the city daily. Anchorage has a Planned Parenthood clinic. If Bristol Palin had wanted an abortion, she would have been able to get one. In Alaska, anyone age 17 or older can get one without parental consent.

    This doesn’t mean that she could keep the fact of her pregnancy quiet. I’m just saying that there are abortion clinics up here, easily accessible by one of her age.

  66. I will certainly agree if it comes to health, the woman is 100% entitled to make whatever decision she needs to. If it is an abortion of convienience, then the father should have equal say.

    As far as parental responsibility, wow. writerdd that is not just sad, but downright offensive. There are alot of mother out there that will disagree with you, and I as a son of a father will as well. Climb down off that pedestal you put your self on.

    @hoverfrog, go easy on the guilt, sounds like you are doing it right.

    @ptarmigan, I think the main issue is, can the daughter of Sarah Palin get an abortion in private? Since the answer to that ? is probably no, then does she really have a “choice”? It is possible that because of her mom’s career choice and position on issues, that choice was removed regardless of her personal needs or desires.

  67. @drew: I’m going to jump in real quick to point out that pregnancy itself does affect “health” in the sense that the body has to go through many changes in order to bring the baby to term. It’s a lot to ask someone to go through that when there are no guarantees for follow-through on well-intentioned promises. Also, I’m not sure how any abortion could be considered “convenient”.

  68. BTW, I know plenty of good dads, but none of them give anywhere near what the moms give. It’s an insult to mothers to say that they do and making more money is not a substitute for giving time to your children. Even when the moms make more, they are still the ones who have to take off when the kids are sick, they are the ones who to go the sports events and plays and so forth. Mr. Mom may have been a funny movie (for those who are old enough to remember it, and I’m sure there’s been a newer remake that I haven’t seen), but it’s only funny because men are not caretakers. If there really was equal parenting, then a movie like that would just be stupid.

  69. @kimbo-

    I understand that. I am talking about long term health issues, or death. Serious stuff, not aches pains and morning sickness etc. that will all go away when the pregnancy ends.

    And unless you are aborting for health reasons, then you are aborting for conveniency. Can’t afford to raise a child? Don’t want to carry full term for work or recreational reasons? Just don’t think you are emotionally ready?

    I am not trying to imply that abortion is an easy decision, but in many times it is the more “convenient” option.

    Like many people here, I am pro-choice. At least legally. I don’t want the government taking those decisions away from private citizens. If I were counseling friends or family, I would help them figure out their best option, lobbying to have them carry to term. Ultimately the choice is theirs and I wouldn’t change my opinion of them if they choose abortion.

    But if it were my fetus, I would want it. If she doesn’t want the baby she can sign it over to me right there in the delivery room.

  70. @writerdd:

    Wake up and look around you. My gf works in daycare and fathers pick the kids up when they are sick all the time.

    My father took time off work to spend time with me, sometimes when I was sick, and sometimes not. He was at every parent teacher meeting. So is my brother for his kids, and my friends for theirs. And I will be as well for mine.

    In this day and age, when moms work as well, alot more fathers are taking over a more actvice care role.

    What you are talking about is so Brady Bunch. Times are changing…

  71. And BTW having your house in forclosure because you took too much time off to watch Little League games and lost your job is fair bit irresponsible. To label hard working providers as “deadbeat on one level or another” is just plain insulting.

  72. Well, maybe you younger folks have gotten things fixed that we old farts never did. If that’s the case — and I hope it is — I apologize for saying something that is not true. I only have a couple of friends with kids who are younger, but they are not any different than the older folks I knew were back in the day. It’s still mommy taking care of the kids while daddy goes to work and golfing. I truly hope that it is becoming more equal and it’s just off my radar.

  73. @writerdd: Wow. Am I glad that the universe has realigned itself. Donna… you’re just wrong. To say that you expect every single father of every generation to be a deadbeat on one level or another is just… well, its incredibly stereotypical. Being a sole provider is parenting. Fixing a leaky faucet is parenting. Providing the money to fix a leaky faucet is parenting.

    And I think that most Dad’s do spend time playing with their kids, going fishing, etc. Either that or there are a lot of strange guys wandering around with other people’s children at every public event I’ve ever attended in my entire life.

    And a last note on the Bristol Palin thing: there is no universe, anywhere, where Bristol Palin would have her mothers support in getting an abortion. Sarah Palin would not bet her entire career on her 17 year old pregnant daughters ability to make a good judgment call on who to tell about an abortion that Sarah Palin believes is an abomination anyway. That’s crazy talk.

  74. Actually with more women working full time jobs dads are spending as much time with the kids as the moms are.
    I also know of 2 dads who moved their office home so they could keep the kids out of daycare as much as possible when their wives went back to work.

    With FMLA it is easy for me to tell my boss that school called, my kids has a fever, I need to go.

    But besides that, I was born in the 70’s to a hard working dad and a stay at home mom. My father was every bit as important and influential to my upbringing as my mom was. Just because she spent more time with me does not diminish his contributions or importance one bit.

    Don’t confuse number of hours with quality of relationship, or equality. Even in the old days, dads were important.

  75. @ sethmanapio:

    “And a last note on the Bristol Palin thing: there is no universe, anywhere, where Bristol Palin would have her mothers support in getting an abortion. Sarah Palin would not bet her entire career on her 17 year old pregnant daughters ability to make a good judgment call on who to tell about an abortion that Sarah Palin believes is an abomination anyway. That’s crazy talk.”

    I don’t think any national level politician with kids at home is a good parent. They are way to self absorbed in their own importance and spend far too much time away from home. And every one of them that I know of would rather force a political expedient decision on their kids rather than what may be best for them.

    I don’t know that Bristol would be better off with an abortion, but I do know that her mom and/or her mom’s “handler” is driving this ship…

  76. I have to say that I am enjoying a topic close to my “heart.”

    However, I don’t have much time to read and reply… and, MOST unfortunately, I am suprised at the lack of skepticism surrounding this issue.

    It’s like we have allowed for our brains to acknowledge facts that may be contrary to what we are commonly taught… and then…… “young women are unprepared for parenthood, apprent”

    This is such a blanket, unskeptical statement.

  77. @drew: Thank you for clarifying. I still think nine months of sickness, aches, etc. on top of everything else going on in life is a lot to go through even if it’s temporary. That in addition to psychological, emotional, and physiological consequences to pregnancy (aside from life-threatening physical complications or relative temporary discomfort) can be daunting for expectant mothers which can lead to mental health issues that technically pose no threat to the pregnancy but are serious risk to subsequent social behaviour, life adjustment, and overall wellbeing of the mother.

    I feel that mental health issues (including emotional readiness) are just as important to consider as physical issues.

    So I don’t disagree with you exactly (in fact, I don’t have an opinion either way on parental rights at the moment), I just wanted to clarify what we’re both referring to when we say “health”. I feel from the tone of your posts that pregnancy, and a mother’s choices about it, are being bit over-simplified. But I think that’s because I’m using a broader definition, perhaps.

  78. I’ve always thought that if you cannot get pregnant, you have no business telling others what they can do with their bodies on abortion, which is one reason I so hate the Catholic church, as it is run by MEN, most of whom are supposed to be celibate. The absurdity of their attitude should be obvious.

  79. @ kimbo

    I don’t think that pregnancy or the choices it brings are ever simple, but this isn’t a great forum for such discussions, we sort of have to simplify.

    But you bring up an interesting idea about mental health. One of the reasons I am of the opinion that fathers should have a say in whether an abortion is performed or not is personal experience. My best friend and his girlfriend slipped up teh year after high school.
    He had just gotten a decent job with benefits but his gf’s parents convinced (forced?) her to get an abortion behind my buddies back.
    It tore him up something fierce, he started doing some very heavy drugs and got hooked up with some real bad dudes and pretty much screwed his life up. He has been an addict and in and out of jail ever since. I can’t say for certain things would be different if she kept the baby, but I can say we will never know because she made that choice behind his back and against his wishes.

    Life long mental health issues are a consideration on both sides of the aisle.

  80. To say that you expect every single father of every generation to be a deadbeat on one level or another is just… well, its incredibly stereotypical.

    Of course it’s an over generalization. I make them all the time. Have you ever heard of hyperbole? It’s a figure of speech. I can’t believe none of you have figured me out yet. I use the same kinds of generalizations and hyperbole in my comments all the time. They are so far over the top, I really don’t believe that you are not aware of my usage. I can’t fathom that anyone thinks I’m seriously saying that there are only 2 good dads in the entire United States. Anyone who actually believes that’s what I literally think is really gullible. Geezus Christ. Everyone knows there are ten.

  81. @drew:

    OK, I completely agree that men have an emotional stake in their wife’s/gf’s/partner’s pregnancy. But to blame this guy’s life of crime and drug addiction on his ex girlfriend’s parents? Talk about lack of personal responsibility. This guy was not cut out for parenthood. His gf and her parents made a good decision.

    No girl should be forced to go through with a pregnancy because she’s afraid her boyfriend is going to become a meth-head armed robber. In fact, that’s a really good reason to go through with one.

  82. @drew: I agree. And in addition to situational factors, there are physiological causes for mental health issues in mothers, such as those that lead to postpartum depression, that must be considered as well. So, not to trivialize the situation, but we’ll never know if your friend would have been fine and his girlfriend would have ended up an addict if she’d had the baby. Or the pregnancy could have been completely uneventful and there was much ado about nothing.

    So yes I think asking a women to stay pregnant when she really doesn’t want to is a bad idea, but that doesn’t mean I think the father shouldn’t be considered or included in the decision-making process. Like I said, I’m undecided about all that “rights” business, and these complex and largely unsolvable issues are largely why — I think every situation is different — I just wanted to bring up some of the more complex issues related to pregnancy and illustrate that not all women are coming from an entirely unreasonable position in not wanting to go through a pregnancy.

  83. @ dale husband- ANY guy, no, but the father, yes, he should have a say.

    @Elyse- FWIW all his arrests have been drub possesion or parole violations like drinking or failing a drug test. None were violent crimes. I do not blame his ex or her parents for the life my friend now has, I blame him and his poor choices.

    But before that he was an 18 yo kid who never got in any trouble and had managed to get a decent job. I think he might have made a pretty good father as he was really good with kids, but we will never know.

  84. @ kinmbo- there are no easy answers, that is for sure.

    My take on parental rights though is very simple. It takes 2 to get pregnant (leaving aside sperm banks etc), so both parents have equal rights and equal responsibility unless and until one or both prove unfit.

  85. @ Elyse:
    Wrong. Unless you allow men the right to divorce themselves from the child regardless of the mothers desires, the rights start from conception.

    You can’t take away my say in whether or not my baby is ever born if you can force me to pay child support for a kid you could have aborted but chose not to.

    You cannot have your cake and eat it to. Equal responsibility means equal rights. Period.

  86. @drew:

    Again, it just goes back to life being unfair. Seriously, there’s nothing you can do about it. You cannot invade a woman’s body and force her to have an abortion nor can you stand between her and her decision not to have the child. The only alternative is not to have sex. That’s not me being snarky, that’s reality. Both parties understand what the possible outcomes are before they have sex. In an ideal world, they’ll come to an agreement before a crisis even occurs, and they will work together on a solution should one arise.

    I agree 100% that EQUAL responsibility means EQUAL rights. However, you cannot have equal responsibility before the baby is born. It’s impossible. Your rights cannot be equal. Until you find a way to be fully responsible for everything that goes along with growing a human being inside your body for 9 months, there will be no equality.

    Again, I get that it’s upsetting and unfair, but I have nothing to offer you to make that better.

  87. Elyse:

    As it stands where I live, I cannot give up my parental responsibilities without the mother’s consent.

    Would you be willing to forfiet those rights? Would you allow that a father could walk away at any point with no legal repercussions?

  88. “”Again, it just goes back to life being unfair. Seriously, there’s nothing you can do about it. You cannot invade a woman’s body and force her to have an abortion nor can you stand between her and her decision not to have the child.””

    I beg to differ, actually. There are a lot of people out there trying to overturn Roe Vs. Wade in and effort to do exactly that.

    Another oddball thought to throw out there for discussion. Does the woman who chooses to abort have sole ownership over the DNA she is terminating? Even when she has only contributed half of it?

  89. @Elyse:

    OK, I completely agree that men have an emotional stake in their wife’s/gf’s/partner’s pregnancy. But to blame this guy’s life of crime and drug addiction on his ex girlfriend’s parents? Talk about lack of personal responsibility. This guy was not cut out for parenthood. His gf and her parents made a good decision.

    No girl should be forced to go through with a pregnancy because she’s afraid her boyfriend is going to become a meth-head armed robber. In fact, that’s a really good reason to go through with one.

    Thank you.

  90. @drew:

    Does the woman who chooses to abort have sole ownership over the DNA she is terminating? Even when she has only contributed half of it?

    No, the fetus has sole ownership of the DNA. And the fetus gets to keep that DNA no matter what. As parents, it’s our gift to them.

  91. @killyosaur42:

    So until we find a way to all become human seahorses (where the female provides the eggs but the male carries the children) we’re basically screwed.

    Unless you don’t get screwed, then you can’t get screwed.

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHA

    I’ll be blogging here all week, folks! Don’t forget to buy a T-shirt!

  92. @drew: It’s more complicated even than that. A mother can choose adoption. A father can’t. That would be after the baby is born. So, essentially, a father who wants nothing to do with the child can be forced to pay child support, but a mother who wants nothing to do with the child typically cannot. That’s unfair, and its unfair after the birth, when both parents are equal in their ability to care for the child.

  93. I’m late to this, but I thought I’d throw in my angle.

    Doug Stanhope is not funny. This stunt is an important statement. Pissy, half-cocked stunts don’t get people talking. This one clearly did. So mission accomplished, Stan. And no-one can deny it.

    Secondly, I’m adopted, and I sought my natural parents at 18, and we’re all happy families now. I have my adopted family and relatives, and all my natural family and relatives. Everyone won. It is possible. And I was adopted BEFORE open adoptions. These days it is even easier for adoptions to work out very well for everyone. I think some on here need to update their ideas of how well adoption works.

    Next, Stan’s message was that for a girl growing up in a strictly Christian family she doesn’t have as much access to accurate pro-choice information. They are fed one option and one option only. Even if he never puts up the 25 g’s he has still made an important and valid point.

    Again, I can only shake my head at Elyse’s comments in her blog. Someone’s got a little sand in her vagina again, clearly. I just don’t get those shrill, foot-stamping ideas of hers. Sorry!

  94. Another thought: us humans DO make a lot of fuss over something that is par for the course for other species, don’t we? Gosh, we’re dramatic! I think some of us here have actually bought the over-dramatization of family, children, parenting – the whole bit.

    We have rats at home, and let me tell you, sex, pregnancy, and child-rearing are such non-issues for them! As Bill Hicks reminded us, it’s no more of a miracle than eating food and having crap come out of your ass. We’re large versions of bacteria, we make copies of ourselves, and then make a big fuss over what happens to those copies.

    Not trying to be heartless here, I just love perspective when it comes to touchy subjects. When people get all worked up over a thing it makes me laugh.

    Humans are all so serious and huffy about some things aren’t we!

  95. On the subject of a distribution of responsibilities and care in the genders it must be rare when a couple have a completely equal share. In a typical family the primary care giver is female simply by virtue of being the lowest earner and having had some time off work to have the baby. A trend that continues throughout the child’s life.

    Of course it is generalising and of course there are exceptions but largely this is the case. I’m happy to see that the trend it changing and the roles are becoming more equal. Maybe is a few generations we’ll have developed enough socially to be truly equal.

  96. On the subject of abortion it is clear that the argument for allowing the male to be involved in the decision is flawed when you shift the perspective. If a man wants to keep the baby and the woman does not is it right that the man force the woman to carry the baby to term? Are her rights over her own body of less value than the desires of the man?

    I’d say definitely not. The man must be removed from the decision of whether or not to carry the child to term. He can, of course, state his opinion but he doesn’t get to decide what she should do with her reproductive equipment.

  97. @seth

    I hear you. In NJ there is a Safe Haven law, where a woman can go just about anywhere and drop her newborn off, no questions asked. I think they should ask at least 1, “who is the father?”

    And at the risk of repeating my self, I am only going to say it one more time, for emphasis.

    If I can be held financially responsible for my orgasm for 18 years, I should have a 50-50 voice in what goes on with that uterus for the 9 months its in there.

    Aside from that, I agree guys have no say in what happens with a woman’s uterus, I will settle for visitation, however brief…

  98. Rebecca beat me. That is so over the line, anyvainlegend. You managed to throw in a bunch of sexist stereotypes, and then involve her genitalia to boot.

    Someone’s got a little sand in her vagina again, clearly. I just don’t get those shrill, foot-stamping ideas of hers.

    You have no fucking idea how much you’ve pissed me off. Because, whenever I get mad, it’s all about my vagina, really.

    I think we should close this thread for now, because clearly the level of discourse is about as low as it can go. If people are only able to discuss ideas by resorting to ad hom attacks, it’s done.

  99. @anyvainlegend:

    Protip: The sandy vag line is only funny when you say it to men. Unfair, I know… but them’s the rules. Besides, it kinda takes the fun out of the joke when the target can simply inspect their genitalia for any loose material, and completely obliterate your argument.

  100. “Lots of teen girls choose not to have abortions. And they make that choice on their own. Is it the best choice for them? I don’t know. Probably not”
    .
    I would suspect the opposite – that in the large majority of cases of teenage pregnancy, an abortion is the best choice for all involved. Society included. (To whoever responds to this – spare us the ridiculous comments about the zygote not having having a choice)

  101. Gosh, people DO get huffy round here! Everyone has sand in all of their orifices. I don’t give a rat’s if you actually HAVE a vagina, apart from being an hilarious South Park reference, I think it is a great line to use when it is very clear that something has ‘stuck in someone’s craw’ (whatever that means, it seems to be a very American saying).

    Please, I beg of you to quit nit-picking every little turn of phrase and focus on what I’m actually SAY-ING. Or it will start to come off like everyone here are easily offended, hyper-sensitive types. Quite the turn-off. I’m about ready to run and not look back.

    Aside from not understanding a lot of the ‘humour’ that gets thrown around here, clearly people don’t understand mine.

    However, I will request bug_girl point out how any of my comments are sexist or stereotypical. I shared a fact about my personal life to illustrate a point. I think I was being quite genuine, and I have plenty of respect for women. So please provide the evidence in the form of a quote or retract the statement. (I don’t actually care if you don’t, but you should if you care about what accusations you throw around).

    Secondly, I never resort to ad hominem arguments as they seem to be the weakest and most obvious a person could use. Calling someone shrill or foot-stamping, or saying they seem overly irked (ie the sand + vagina line) is not ad hominem. I don’t name-call, but I do have colourful ways of describing how some people come across. Again, I have been falsely accused, and I politely request you take it back.

  102. And to hoverFrog: it is an illusion that humans are any more complex than rats in anything other than mind. We imagine our so-called problems to be greater than they are. Compare a dog and a man who have both lost a leg: which of the two will need post-traumatic stress therapy, and which will go about their life quite happily compensating for the lost with the remaining limbs?

    We pretend that events mundane to the rest of the animal kingdom are really big deals because it is a ‘human thing’, and actually believe it like it is the Truth. I am skeptical of these beliefs, just as I am skeptical of believing in gods or the supernatural. I am skeptical of any glorification, or raising to the status of Miracle, any natural process of biology.

    We are put to shame by the ease and grace with which our animal cousins accept the realities of life. As a rat lover, hoverFrog, you would know that it is not at all unusual for a rat mother to lose several babies in a litter. What does she almost inevitably do with those still-born? Eat them. Mmm, yum yum.

    We are wired to make big deals of simple things. Silly me to come on to a website called ‘Skepchick’ and try and bring some universal perspective to the topic of child-birth and rearing. They are sacred.

  103. @anyvainlegend:

    You raise rats. This makes you an expert on the universe, child birth and child rearing.

    You were adopted. This makes you an expert on everything adoption related in every respect over experts who actually make a living researching the subject.

    You insist that taking a step back and examining the universe will give everyone perspective. Yet you cannot even take a step back and think that perhaps you may be wrong about anything.

    You tell me I have sand in my vagina, and I’m the one who owes YOU an apology.

    I think I’m starting to get your humor after all…

  104. @Elyse: No Elyse, I don’t need apologies from you. Read my comment again. I requested an apology from bug_girl for calling me sexist, or at least implying that I made sexist and stereotypical remarks. I did not, and I should be insulted (I’m not).

    You raise rats. This makes you an expert on the universe, child birth and child rearing.
    You were adopted. This makes you an expert on everything adoption related in every respect over experts who actually make a living researching the subject.

    If I am to take you correctly, you are saying I have not the right to comment due to not being an ‘expert’ on the subjects I am commenting on? I don’t know what infuriates me more, that you responded with an emotional argument that didn’t really say anything, other than to suggest my position on a subject is any less valid than yours, or that you didn’t actually respond in some meaningful, logical way to the things I have said. Your reply just sounded like “Oh, what – so you think you know everything? What would YOU know? Hmmph!”

    It is a scientific fact that humans are meaning-givers and pattern-finders, unlike other animals. We take things more seriously, get emotionally invested in some matters, where animals do no such thing. What this demonstrates is that the controversy is not a real, actual Thing, but lives in human minds. I am a big believer that realising where most things live – in the imagination – is important to rationally evaluating circumstances and making decisions. My position was based in science and I invite anyone to comment on that.

    Elyse, you have not said anything that actually refutes what I have said.

  105. @Elyse

    “Isn’t that what I said? Or am I reading my own words wrong and only thinking I’m saying what I meant to say?

    Because I meant that having the child is probably not the best option.”

    Sorry, the double negatives threw me off. Plus, I had been drinking.

    Yes, getting an abortion is generally the best option, when discussing teen pregnancy.

  106. it is an illusion that humans are any more complex than rats in anything other than mind.

    Yes, more complex then. We share many characteristics but our minds are more developed. Did I say that we were put here on this Eden but a white bearded sky god to rule over the animal world? No. I said we were more complex.

    It also surprises me somewhat that a rat breeder wouldn’t want to point out that rats do form communities, do cooperate and do alter their behaviour when one of their pack is lost. Do they mourn and get all huffy like we humans? Who can tell, they lack the complex communication abilities of the “higher” mammals and their shorter lives make long term mourning impractical.

    Just because we live in our minds and assign meaning to events doesn’t diminish the value of those meanings to us. If we feel insulted it hardly matters if the insult from our perception or some intent until we make an effort to deconstruct it or, FSM forfend, imply meaning.

  107. @anyvainlegend:

    Please, I beg of you to quit nit-picking every little turn of phrase and focus on what I’m actually SAY-ING.

    That is the huffiest statement I’ve ever read. And I beg you to get it through your head that those particular turns of phrases you’re using are offensive and demeaning to the women here. You don’t think so, but you’re also not on the other side of it. Are racial slurs okay if it’s just a funny turn of phrase? No, they’re hurtful and stupid, and it only shows the ignorance of the one using them if one isn’t able to make one’s point without them. We like jokes. We don’t like put-downs based on gender. Understand the difference.

  108. So Jen, you’re saying if I’d said it to a bloke you wouldn’t have sand in your vagina about it? I don’t get that.

    Obviously you don’t know that it’s a line by Cartman on South Park or you would think it was funny too. Or not? I don’t know. Why can Cartman get away with it and not me? Because it’s written by Parker and Stone? Does Cartman never say it to girls on the show? I’m struggling to remember now.

    “Please, I beg of you to quit nit-picking every little turn of phrase and focus on what I’m actually SAY-ING” is not huffy… there’s a difference. What I’m asking you is, for clarity’s sake, to try to understand the intent and point of a comment, rather than getting caught up in phrasing.

    I find slang and scatalogical language to be very strong and effective and funny, as do many speakers, comedians, writers, etc (none of which I am, clearly) but by the reaction I’m getting around here it just gets in the way. So I’ll knock it off. You sheilas all have your panties in twists…

  109. Anyvainlegend: you will not get an apology. In fact, I will say that you are a sexist asshat again.

    In what fucking universe is this NOT an ad hom:

    I never resort to ad hominem arguments as they seem to be the weakest and most obvious a person could use. Calling someone shrill or foot-stamping, or saying they seem overly irked (ie the sand + vagina line) is not ad hominem.

    It’s an attack on a person and not their ideas.
    And it’s an attack on characteristics that are stereotypically feminine, or only possessed by women.
    Hello, you’re saying things are sexist.
    And sexism isn’t funny.

  110. @anyvainlegend:

    I find slang and scatalogical language to be very strong and effective and funny, as do many speakers, comedians, writers, etc (none of which I am, clearly) but by the reaction I’m getting around here it just gets in the way.

    Slang and scatalogical language is fine and it can be effective. However, you have shown time and time again that whatever your *actual* message is, it is getting diluted by your use of sexist slang. Doesn’t that mean it’s not effective? Maybe you should reconsider use of this language to make sure you’re making the point you want. I don’t think you are.

  111. @anyvainlegend: “Why can Cartman get away with it and not me?”

    ————

    Possibly for the same reason that Cartman can get away with beating people with a stick, and real cops can’t. It’s also funny when Cartman dresses up as a Nazi and leads the town on a march, chanting anti-jewish slogans. That’s because Cartman is supposed to be evil, and to represent the worst in all of us. Which is okay, because HE’S A FUCKING CARTOON.

    A grip, dude. Get one.

  112. @Masala Sketpic, anyvainlegend used sexist slang. Fair enough. But this began when writerdd casually named all fathers as deadbeats. I consider that a much more offensive bit of sexist asshattery than a childish version of “don’t get your shorts in a bunch”.

  113. @msd: But no one, so far, has defended writerdd either. And she at least pretended that she was only kidding, so I guess that sort of counts as a mea culpa.

    By the way, Donna, as I took the Highlander to daycare this morning, pondering the fact that I wasn’t going to see him for several days because I have to go make a few bucks… I thought about what you said.

    And if it was a joke, dude, you suck at jokes.

  114. @bug_girl: In what fucking universe is this NOT an ad hom:

    This one, I think. It’s an ad hominem only if the attack on the person is used as a reason to dismiss their ideas. So, if I say that anyvainlegend is an asshole, and therefore his ideas are crap, that’s an ad hominem, but if I say that he’s an asshole and in addition, his ideas are crap, that isn’t.

  115. Re: ad hom.
    If you are really criticizing the ideas, why is it necessary to throw in the personal attacks?

    If I say “your ideas are stupid and your feet smell” I think that falls within the ad hom arena.
    Now, It would be more *properly* ad hom if it was “Your feet smell, so your ideas are stupid” but I think it’s pretty much semantic quibbling.

    And frankly, I’m sick of this crap and I’m going back to work. At least I get paid to get talked down to there.

  116. OK. OK. I retract the ‘sand + vagina’ quip, and I’ll say that Elyse has gotten her balls tangled over this whole issue, in an emotional, non-logical way.

    I don’t see how any of this stuff has anything to do with skepticism. The reason why all of these Palin issues Elyse has raised devolves into opinionated messes is because there is no way skepticism alone can approach the level of clarity required at a personal level to make the kinds of decisions the Palin family has had to make in the last 6-12 months.

    There I said it. Opinions are just going to continue to be opinions. Regardless of the individuals involved — in fact, forget the Palins — let’s just call them the Smith family, Jane is the mommy and Fran is the pregnant teen. When looking at the situation, we can see that in another setting, say, a secular home, the decisions may have been made very differently. Can we agree on that?

    All slang and tomfoolery aside, I believe this is the only point that Stanhope was making, and if you re-read his statement it is no more offensive than a strongly worded Dawkins comment on religion. It is not scatalogical, but it makes a point and as stunts go it could have been worse.

    What gets me is that there are certain people, females mostly – and I’m not going to be made afraid to say it – that have a filter for looking for any comment that seems to ASSUME what it must be like for females. It is a feminist thing, I believe. But I think it is over-the-top, and is a deliberate and wilful ignoring of what a speaker is ACTUALLY trying to say.

    I feel I have been made victim of this filter, even on this page – and it’s so silly! You’d rather find offense and miss the point, all because you somehow feel slighted as a female, or something. I can’t mention sand + vagina because you’re a female, even though I could just as easily have been speaking to a guy on here and said it. Doug can’t insinuate that having children is hard at a young age because it is somehow judging, or speaking out of turn. Are feminists trying to quash free speach?

    I don’t get it. The guy was standing up for Bristol’s rights as a female. Standing up against oppressive old-world, religious indoctrination, and he’s been howled down on here.

  117. Regarding ad hom’ (as you folks call it so familiarly), I think it’s something to hide behind. If you don’t like what’s being said, if someone uses adjectives that you don’t like, you can squawk “ad hom!” like a victim and somehow that gets you out of actually responding to a comment.

    I believe I haven’t ad hommed anyone on here, but if I say that someone responds in a shrill, foot-stamping way to some issue, that is not an ad hominem. I don’t name call, and I might probably like Elyse very much in person, but I feel that some adjectives should be allowed to describe the way a person speaks, without being accused of attacking the person.

  118. you are all missing the point.

    1) there is a difference between a baby and an adult. Babies are not people, despite your beliefs or maternal instincts. They are potentialities, and nothing more. This is inherent in the animal kingdom, but, having forgotten from where we came, we treat children as more important than adults when, in fact, the opposite is so (and yes, I say this with full cognizance of the ramifications when applied to my own life).
    2) Bristol Palin Never had any choice in this matter, and that is the main point. Call this a publicity stunt, or exploitative, or whatever reactionary bullshit you can cull from your cerebellum, the point of the website and the offer is simply to illustrate the point that even a teen pregnancy can become a political ploy, despite the obvious right-wing hypocrisy therein.
    3) How you feel about Stanhope’s choice of material or use of verbiage is entirely irrelevant to the case at hand, largely because his act is primarily centered on the dichotomy between lowbrow delivery with intellectually viable reasoning (a concept which is delightfully foreign to most), and also because this is not standup.
    4) Was Bristol to actually take the $50,000 and leave her family and pregnancy behind, it would be a victory for all agents of liberty and individual choice, regardless particularities in personal perspective (and that’s a free alliteration).
    and 5) IT’S JUST FUCKING HUMOR.

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