Sarah Palin spent her first days as John McCain's running mate being pounded over her daughter Bristol's out-of-wedlock pregnancy. In this predicament, critics saw Puritan hypocrisy, maternal neglect, and the predictable consequences of abstinence-only education. There are many good grounds for criticizing Palin. This isn't one of them.I disagree. Not because I think it makes Gov. Palin a bad mother; my silly doings as a teenager certainly shouldn't determine the quality of my own mom's parenting. (She was great, btw, and still is.) But Gov. Palin has said that she supports overturning Roe v. Wade and giving the decision back to the states, and that she personally opposes abortion even in cases of rape. It's not farfetched to assume that, were Roe overturned and the decision turned over to Alaska's voters, she would vote to ban all abortions except where the mother's life is at stake.
And yet! And yet, when the Palins announced that their daughter Bristol was pregnant and keeping her baby, they referred to Bristol's decision. She made a choice. It would be one thing to come out and say, "We as a family believe that the only choice--a mandate, in fact--is to let this baby live. It is a human being and we refuse to kill it. Abortion is not an option for us, and it should not be an option for any healthy woman who becomes pregnant, unless her own life is at risk." But she didn't say that. She talked about her daughter's choice as exactly what it was, and what it should be. That is hypocricy, and it's worth criticizing.