In a recent PSA, Bristol Palin implores poor women to "pause" before they "play," citing her famous, wealthy family as the only reason her efforts at single parenthood have been successful. The implication is that young mothers without her privilege are alone and destitute, depicted in the ad as having frizzy hair and being stranded in an empty room with a needy baby.
Bristol Palin is hardly the first to suggest that poor people not have children. Margaret Sanger preyed on mainstream fears of rampant Irish Catholic breeding to gain support for her Planned Parenthood initiatives. From 1929 to 1974, the state of North Carolina ran a sterilization program that targeted poor black people, thought to be miscreants.
But Bristol Palin's message is misguided also because it presumes that wealth is a necessary factor in managing teen motherhood. True, babies are expensive. But other teen mothers have families too, even if they can't all have governors for parents. Those mythical "villages" have been raising children for as long as humans have been having them. How could any one person do everything that is necessary for the wellbeing and development of another?
Family support is of course crucial in mitigating the difficulties of [young] single parenthood. Yet mention of the child's father as a reliable - or even viable - nurturer is absent in this ad. That the female parent is responsible for a pregnancy and child goes unquestioned. Male consciousness should be examined as it is interpreted, validated, and institutionalized by mainstream society in ads such as this one.
Bristol might have used her platform to advocate for healthy, informed relationships, instead of the blanket admonition for abstinence. Sex does have consequences, but ignorance has more.