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A Private Matter

On the MSNBC program “Morning Joe,” one of the Andrea Mitchell triplets -- one works the morning shift, one the afternoon and the other the night -- sternly cautioned me and other media types that the pregnancy of 17-year-old Bristol Palin is a strictly private family matter. Less importantly, Barack Obama made the same argument, saying that family -- and especially kids -- are off limits. I could not agree more.

Nonetheless… May I suggest that the Plight of the Palins -- sounds like an old time movie serial -- says something about the Palins themselves and their politics. And since their politics is the politics of the GOP and those assembled in St. Paul, we have a right, and perhaps even an obligation, to comment on this matter.

For while the Palins are free to handle this situation in the way they see fit -- Bristol will carry to term and marry the father -- the same sort of freedom is not what they would permit others. Specifically, if the Palins had their way, the countless teenagers who get accidentally pregnant would not be able to have an abortion. What’s more, the intended fathers might have to decide at an awfully young age to marry the woman in question. This is not always a beautiful event, as the Palins apparently call just about every setback in their lives, but often a catastrophe.

So, okay, let’s lay off the Palins. Let them do as they see fit with their daughter. And let us also give them the same consideration regarding their decision to proceed with the birth of their down syndrome child -- a decision made easier by some affluence and the perks that a governor gets.

But none of that changes the fact that if the Palins and others in the Republican Party had their way, the decision to abort an unwanted teenage pregnancy even at the earliest stage and for almost any reason -- immaturity, mental health, whatever -- would be firmly denied and made a crime. The very private -- that word again -- decision of how to proceed with an unwanted or catastrophic pregnancy would governed by the law. And even the tiniest suggestion that the Bristol seemed to consider an alternative -- “We’re proud of Bristol’s decision to have her baby, said the official statement -- would be out of the question if the GOP had its way. What “decision?” There would be none to make.

By all means, give the Palins the privacy they seek. But by all means, can we ask them why won’t give the rest of us the privacy we seek?

By Richard Cohen  | September 2, 2008; 10:25 AM ET
Categories:  Cohen  | Tags:  Richard Cohen  
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Next: Bristol Palin Is Not the Issue


From the statment Ms Palin made, makes
me think that at some point Bristol
was given the choice.....

Posted by: zgirl | September 2, 2008 10:58 AM | Report abuse

But Rick, what gives them the right to preach and legislate what we do is that they are "God's Own Party"!!

If Palin's daughter had just followed her own mom's "abstinence only" policy!

I'm just being sarcastic, of course.

Posted by: Chris | September 2, 2008 10:59 AM | Report abuse

Forget the daughter. Gov Palin, who supports abstinence only "for thee but not for me" was having premarital sex and got pregnant back in 1988 according to the NY Times:

According to NY Times, here is Governor Palin's story:

"The Palins eloped on Aug. 29, 1988, and their first son, Track, was born eight months later ..."


Abstinence only, for thee and not for me.

But she attends fundementalist Churches and assures everybody else that she is pro-abstinence only (now, but for herself in 1988).

The hypocrisy boggles the mind.

Posted by: steve | September 2, 2008 11:00 AM | Report abuse

Mr. Cohen,
What a duplicitous hypocrite. First agreeing that talking about Palin's daughter was off-limits and then spending the next five paragraphs talking about it. How much time and space did you spend on John Edward's adultery, his love child, his mistress or Jesse Jackson's second family founded in adultery. Both were democratic presidential candidates. Not much vetting there or an acceptance that this was normal behavior for high powered democrats. By the way, Obama's efforts to keep family private is to shield his wife's past and present even as she presents herself to the public as a campaigner for him. Another hypocrite>

Posted by: E.Patrick Mosman | September 2, 2008 11:11 AM | Report abuse

Wait a minute, overturning Roe would not make abortion illegal, there was no federal law that was overturned. I would return control to the individual states. So what would happen? Probably, the Blue states would retain their current Roe compliant laws providing Abortion access, and the Red states would rapidly inact laws reflecting there more conservative views. The Rupublicans would regulate themselves and the coasts would be in Nirvana!

Posted by: JF in Denver | September 2, 2008 11:12 AM | Report abuse

First of all, steve, from a theoretical perspective, "Do as I say not as I did." makes good sense if we are not to repeat the mistakes made by others. If I broke my arm falling off a roof and subsequently told my children not to go on the roof without fall protection gear, would it be appropriate for me to accept "but YOU didn't do that!" as a response.

More to the point, however, the Bristol story was, in part, a response to the baseless blog chatter about whether Sarah Palin's last child was actually hers and, more importantly, whether Sarah had behaved appropriately in flying at 36 weeks when she suspected that she might be leaking amniotic fluid. According to Palin, her doctor had okayed the flight.

So wasn't Roe v Wade about the privacy of medical decisions? Why are liberals so concerned about the possibility that Roe v Wade might be overturned unable to afford the Palins the same privacy protections?

Politicians are frequently hypocritical but if the right to the privacy of a medical decision is to be absolute and universal, it should apply to all such decisions and not simply those involving abortion.

Whether it was appropriate for Palin to fly at 36 weeks gestation is between her and her doctor and everyone else should just butt out.

Posted by: Joe Leaphorn | September 2, 2008 11:26 AM | Report abuse

Why is Britney Spears' mom running for VP?

What this really shows me is that every election counts. A mayor of 7000 people three years ago could be a heart beat away from the Presidency. This is like a bad Sandra Bullock movie not reality.

McCain please stop this. Please or give me my money back.

Posted by: Trent Dillard | September 2, 2008 11:28 AM | Report abuse

From one who ignored the Edwards Affair allowing Comrade Obama to over-take Hillary, you still seem sexist.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 2, 2008 11:30 AM | Report abuse

Head of State

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

"No Surprises From Palin, McCain Team Says"-Washington Post

Senior McCain officials described themselves as "unsurprised" today as huge storms of locusts flew from Wasilla, Alaska and descended upon McCain campaign headquarters. "Locusts were vetted. Locusts were vetted in the vet" said one campaign official, who spoke without attribution out of concern that he would be devoured by a verminous flying cloud. The campaign also said that they were nonplussed by reports that the rivers were running black with ashes, that family pets were begin to speak in human voices, declaiming "Release Sarah!", and that a huge spreading stain was beginning to blot out the Northern sun. "Vetted", said the campaign.

"There are exciting new studies that show that locusts can be used as a source of biodegradable fuel" said Newt Gingrich, as he hunkered down to avoid the black marble obelisks falling from the sky around him. "Palin, if she can be said to have played a role in bringing about these new biofuel resources, should be praised for her innovative role in the solution to our future energy demands".

"These events firmly demonstrate Palin's deep connection to traditional modes of traditional expression, in traditional forms, traditionally." said William Kristol, editor of the Weekly Standard. "Experience, in the face of these more traditional events, is overrated..." continued Kristol, before ending the interview to wrap himself head-to-toe in mosquito netting and swallowing a bitter tasting anti-malarial drug, the taste of which, as his lips contorted, he noted to be "surprisingly refreshing."

Palin's schedule in the upcoming days of the Republican National Convention has been cut short due to, as one McCain communications aide reported, a desire not to "let the magic out of the bottle too quickly." "Sarah is a precious resource, who each moment brings a new vitality and energy to every worker on the campaign" said the aide, while fighting to remove the nest of serpents which had suddenly materialized on the floor beneath him, and were now slowly ascending his legs. "Do these bite, or just slink?" asked the aide, who spoke on conditions of anonymity so as not to provoke or otherwise alienate the reptiles.

Meanwhile, as the heavens darkened, the seas began to boil, and a deep voice tore through the clouds shouting, in stentorian tones to one and all: "It was a Mistake!", campaign offices described themselves as "unperturbed". "Serpents materializing, house pets suddenly called to vocal advocacy, Celestial callings to revise and repent...Vetted" said the spokesman, speaking on condition of anonymity as he was turning into a pillar of salt. "Everything that was vetted was vetted in the vet."

Head of State:

Posted by: Robert Hewson | September 2, 2008 11:33 AM | Report abuse

Mr. Cohen and the news media in general today have done the honorable thing in not talking about Bristol Palin. Unfortunately, Mr. Cohen and others have felt the need to talk to us first about not talking about young Ms. Palin.

More substantively, I'm not sure how this argument is intended to track. That a family chooses to take a difficult but laudable course even when an ethically objectionable but materially easier one is available somehow demonstrates the necessity of leaving the easy course open? How exactly?

Because the Palin's have a fortunate confluence of strength of character and financial security, which are privileges that not all receive in this country? OK--that's perhaps an argument of the necessity to attend to our civic and moral education and to promote economic justice. But it is not yet a pro-choice argument.

Or is it that privacy should cover all personal, reproductive choices whether they are pro or contra embryonic life? That's it. But surely the government has the authority and responsibility to direct certain aspects of our community and, thus, our lives (that is what "to govern" means, after all). Some of government's primary responsibilities are to regulate or provide, with prudence, the resources and institutions that pertain to the common good; to remove the administration of justice from passion and self-interest and establish it on the basis of law; and, in a civilized society, to remove the capacity to take life from private hands. I think most Americans would agree with what I have said about government thus far. Then, if abortion in fact does the latter (i.e., legalize the ability of private individuals to determine, without consent, and bring about another's death), which a majority of people in this country are prepared, I think, to accept (even if they disagree on life's beginning at conception), then "privacy" becomes a thin shelter for the de facto refutation of a basic purpose of government.

If embryonic life is a human being, "privacy" that can cover abortion can easily be conceived, if one is consistent, to cover other private assaults on the lives, health, and welfare of others.

Posted by: Colin | September 2, 2008 11:37 AM | Report abuse

It's curious to see how the far right has so fully embraced a new pro-premarital sex and out-of-wedlock pregnancy platform in defense of Palin. I wonder if they could reconcile it with the GOP platform:

We renew our call for replacing "family planning" programs for teens with increased funding for abstinence education, which teaches abstinence until marriage as the responsible and expected standard of behavior. Abstinence from sexual activity is the only protection that is 100 percent effective against out-of-wedlock pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV/AIDS when transmitted sexually. We oppose school-based clinics that provide referrals, counseling, and related services for abortion and contraception.

Posted by: Mary | September 2, 2008 11:41 AM | Report abuse

You have to wonder what choice Obama's mother would've made had Roe v Wade occurred before he was conceived. And wasn't his mother 17 at the time?

Posted by: Jack G. | September 2, 2008 11:46 AM | Report abuse

The decision to put the baby up for adoption

Also imagine if your parents thought you were unwanted and aborted you.

Look the the fundamental issue here is this. One party believes it is okay to kill another human being that is completely defenseless and has done nothing wrong.

How can you people sleep at night.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 2, 2008 11:52 AM | Report abuse

When conservatives argue that overturning Roe v. Wade would return control over abortion to the individual states, they are obscuring the GOP platform, one that is fully embraced by Palin, that outlaws abortion in all cases, including rape and incest:

We must keep our pledge to the first guarantee of the Declaration of Independence. That is why we say the unborn child has a fundamental individual right to life which cannot be infringed. We support a human life amendment to the Constitution and we endorse legislation to make it clear that the 14th Amendment's protections apply to unborn children. Our purpose is to have legislative and judicial protection of that right against those who perform abortions. We oppose using public revenues for abortion and will not fund organizations which advocate it. We support the appointment of judges who respect traditional family values and the sanctity of innocent human life.

Posted by: Mary | September 2, 2008 11:52 AM | Report abuse

Ant woman who puts her narcissistic political aspirations before her daughter's right to privacy and protection from public scrutiny is ill deserving of being anything much less a "heartbeat away" from the Presidency. As a parent, this sickens me!!!

Posted by: Ct Yankee1 | September 2, 2008 12:07 PM | Report abuse

Presumably Bristol participated in sex education classes at school. Presumably Bristol received lengthy abstinance lectures at home.

Obviously, neither strategy worked.

If teaching and preaching don't work, what makes anyone think that legislating it will?


Posted by: DEF | September 2, 2008 12:09 PM | Report abuse

It is worth noting that the Palins have never suggested with respect to their daughter's pregnancy what abortion advocates have stated with respect to abortion.

Abortion advocates say that neither the government nor any other person (e.g. parents or spouses) have any right in the mother's decision to abort. The Palins have never said the government has no role here, and have simply said that those outside the family should stay out.

I'm sure the Palins plan on including the government in this process... for example, by obtaining a birth certificate. Likewise, they have never said that, as parents, they should have no role in their daughter's decision.

The abortion attack here doesn't work, unless one uses faulty logic or fails to see the claims made by respective parties.

Posted by: SAB | September 2, 2008 12:21 PM | Report abuse

Apparantly McCain is going after the so-called white trash vote, by selecting a feuding (firing of public saftey head for not firing her sisters ex), gun toting, teen sex having (both her and daughter), flip-flopping (bridge to nowhere), loose morals (despite what she preaches)candidate.

Posted by: RG | September 2, 2008 12:29 PM | Report abuse

dear anonymous: i sleep well at night knowing that i am not forcing my will upon others; i allow people the room to make their own choices. i suppose you sleep well at night, too, comforted in your righteousness.

Posted by: jjb | September 2, 2008 12:31 PM | Report abuse

What I don't understand is;

Why do we mandate extra pre-cautions for our children when they begin to drive an automobile but not when they mature into sexual beings?

We can't settle for just saying no to speeding, texting, and goofing off in cars so we mandate the use of seat belts.

Why do abstinence only folks not understand this concept. Humans will do as humans have always done.

Dobson, Schaffly and the rest are triumphing in the palin's sudden "humanity" but do not want to help protect our children from just that!

Posted by: Thomas | September 2, 2008 12:32 PM | Report abuse

Wait a minute--the fact that Palin's daughter got pregnant is immaterial to Palin's candidacy.

But: the fact that Bristol is marrying the father and keeping the baby is absolutely germane. It speaks to Palin's character and the fact that she is willing to throw her own daughter's future under the bus to sew up her candidacy.

Palin knew her daughter was pregnant before accepting the nomination. This means that, before doing so, she had to be absolutely sure that her daughter and the oh-so-inconvenient pregnancy were squared away in the only acceptable Republican manner: marry the father, however inappropriate and doomed such a liason is; keep the baby.

How can ANYONE believe the 17 year old had any voice in this so-called decision? Would you, a vulnerable young woman hardly more than a child, honestly be able to stand up to your opinionated mom who is Governor of Alaska, and tell her "To hell with your bid for VP, I'm putting this baby up for adoption and I refuse to get married"?

Come on, people.

Whether it was through persuasion or coercion, Bristol never stood a chance. "Decision", indeed.

Posted by: gigi | September 2, 2008 12:43 PM | Report abuse

I agree With jjb.
What make these extremist on the right. Think they have the right to impose their belief on others.

Posted by: Lou | September 2, 2008 12:46 PM | Report abuse

While most of your extremely partison comment don't bother me at all - I don't care much about politics - I think your snotty, insulting insinuation that having a Downs Syndrome baby is

" -- a decision made easier by some affluence and the perks that a governor gets."

I find that remark to be ridiculous and insulting.

It makes it sound like the Palins are self-indulgent for having their baby instead of aborting the child.

Do you mean that? You think the decision is selfish? Or, it's so much easier to have a child with medical problems b/c there are perks associated with being a governor?

Posted by: Amelia | September 2, 2008 12:48 PM | Report abuse

I believe that the Palins should be left alone to deal with the latest irruption. I do not believe that abstinence only education is wise, but I would not condemn the governor for supporting it or visit the sin (if that be what it is) of the daughter upon the parents. While I believe abortion should be legal and widely available, I also believe that Roe v. Wade is bad jurisprudence for a host of technical reasons, a view shared by many legal authorities in the pro-choice crowd.
Finally, I do not criticize Mr. Cohen for discussing the issues related to the Palin pregnancy, for they are pertinent and timely.

Posted by: Paul Bloustein | September 2, 2008 1:00 PM | Report abuse

Social conservatives (so-called) are not conservative when it comes to them demanding to run our lives. They have a special line to God. God is a special friend who tells them right from wrong. Social conservatives conclude it is their right and their duty to pass God's word along to those of us who are struggling to get it right and who do not have a special line to God. God's messengers here on Earth should put a sock it in. But that would deprive them of a continuing source of entertainment as their messages go forth and their targets squirm. Apparently the teenage mother of the instant case was improperly indoctrinated as to God's Will and permitted someone's seed to enter her body. She should have just said "No." No abortion. No contraception. No sex. No way. No how.

Posted by: BlueTwo1 | September 2, 2008 1:02 PM | Report abuse

Bristol's choice was to have sex (protected or otherwise) or not to have sex. She chose to have sex. She and her family will accept the consequences of that fateful choice and move forward into adult life.

Bristol--a young woman very nearly "of age" in political the sense of self-determination--might possibly, unlike her mother, be pro-choice. Who knows...and isn't it her right to privacy? Either way, the process of choice begins pre-conception, with a choice of alternatives in post-conception.

The Palin family, apparently, will not take a morning-after pill (or worse) for convenience or political expedience, to avoid the oppressive ridicule of the American media, to avoid rabid hypocrisy of the nothing-is-offlimits pop-culture society we've collectively procreated ourselves into.

Posted by: Pro/Con-Choice | September 2, 2008 1:16 PM | Report abuse

Why is it that in discussions such as these that the concept of adoption never comes up? There are many couples that are unable to have children that would be only too happy to help out young women that have an unplanned pregnancy. There are other choices besides a forced/unwanted marriage and an abortion.

Posted by: mxmulli | September 2, 2008 1:19 PM | Report abuse

This Republican regime can even take the holier than thou road on High School sex, amazing!

Posted by: Jon | September 2, 2008 1:33 PM | Report abuse

Choice begins first with the decision (or not) to engage in sex or to abstain. Then with or without effective contraception. Once you've consummated the relationship, the choice is to give life or to terminate it.

When did responsible "choice" skip past the first stages?

Regardless, Brisol apparently chose sex (unprotected or otherwise) and now she has chosen as any woman's right to have the baby.

Wouldn't it have been far more politically expedient of her to sweep her little surprise under the rug at a clinic just like so many suburban teenagers across America?

My bet: the local Planned Parenthood office would have leaked it to the press regardless.

Posted by: PreChoice | September 2, 2008 1:35 PM | Report abuse

Amelia wrote: I think your snotty, insulting insinuation that having a Downs Syndrome baby is

" -- a decision made easier by some affluence and the perks that a governor gets."

Amelia: Whether you thought it was a snotty way to put it or not, and you may be right, it is still true.

Posted by: Olive | September 2, 2008 1:40 PM | Report abuse

Can't we all just get alone, be left alone, and make the right choice in November. If you do the right thing then Mrs. Palin can be in Alaska, closer to her daughter and all her other children to make sure they don't make the same mistakes. She can attend AA with her husband, and sit on her front porch and shoot at the Polar Bears, that is after she is finished with her Govermental duties.
America will then be headed in the right directions again making "The Change We Can Believe In." Don't you all agree? Then vote the right ticket in November and let others have their privcacy, and the Eskimos can run free.

Posted by: SJW | September 2, 2008 1:41 PM | Report abuse

This is an interesting blog...we can't discuss anything that a candidate's kid might have done because we'll be attacking the kid...ARE YOU KIDDING ME??? Leave Bristol alone but discuss the issue...and all you right-to-lifers? Get a grip. The young girl had a that was NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS...whether she was a minor or not.

Posted by: Mego | September 2, 2008 1:55 PM | Report abuse

The Christian Right are the big hypocrites!
People, kids, have children out of wedlock. But if it was a black girl...they would not care about the prenatal care or if she kept it, only about the welfare check she would recieve. I watched Ted Nugent from Michigan the other day and it confirms the fact that there is not a Christian bone in most of the Republican bodies. Some are straight Red Necked Racist! Forget liberal politics: I am a Conservative Christian who works on the sreets and see the problems and issues that affect poor Americans of all colors and creeds. Nugent used code words like "bling" and and welfare when ranting against health care. For far to long they have use the politics of race and class to divide America. I would not care that much either is I had a job and medical. Vote the bums out.

Posted by: walterrock | September 2, 2008 1:58 PM | Report abuse

gigi brings up another very valid point of duplicitous argumentation by the GOP.

It is all a private matter, all the while a press release shouts that she is carrying the baby to term and marrying the father.

The GOP needs to come to terms with the fact that many of the evangelical-radical right positions reek of neurotic ambitions of power over others. Even worse, the desire to control others is greater than the concern for any positive outcome.

This is why our country is self-destructing. The political right is not concerned with earthly results, but just about hollow ideological, pyhrric victories.

Posted by: AgentG | September 2, 2008 2:02 PM | Report abuse

last comment on this. Good column that tries to be fair.

By the way, to the poster who got his/her facts wrong,Obama's mother was eighteen, she was a college student. She was not a high school student.

The Palin girl deserves to be supported by loving parents just as Obama's mother was. She is lucky to have a family that can support her and see this through without ruining her life as so many others teenagers do because their families cannot provide the support thay need for a variety of reasons some of their own making, some not.

But the irony here is this young lady might be a victim of the religeous conservative far right of which her parents are proud members. No sex education,no knowledge of birth control, no information on STD"s, no knowledge of choices other than abstainence.

Posted by: toldyouso | September 2, 2008 2:03 PM | Report abuse

Send Obama home in November so that he and Michelle can raise their girls so that they don't succumb to the same fate of Sarah Palin's eldest.

Posted by: ObamaKidsNeedTheirDad | September 2, 2008 2:16 PM | Report abuse

I agree with you on this one Mr. Cohen, but only because Gov. Palin and the McCain campaign made her family’s conduct relevant by touting it as evidence of her “authenticity”, and therefore as some sort of strange qualification for the presidency.

As long as Palin rides atop the Christianist’s wet dreams of banning abortion and punishing premarital sex, it is appropriate to point out the hypocrisy and arrogance when her own teenage daughter has an unplanned pregnancy and “chooses” to keep the baby (a choice that Palin would deny MY daughters).

To an extent, your parenting skills reflect your general integrity and ability as a leader. If your family is as screwed up as Palin’s seems to be (unmarried pregnant teenage daughters, sister with nine children and no live-in dad, etc.), I’d want to see some assurance that the country you run won’t end up looking like your family.

To be sure Bill Clinton came from a similar, er, background (abusive, alcoholic stepdad and all that). But he overcame that background spectacularly (unlike his unfortunate brother), and became an undeniably charismatic leader that elevated America’s prestige internationally. And his daughter certainly doesn’t seem to act like a dropout from a trailer park. Palin, by contrasts, seems to project the most negative stereotype of America’s White working class: profligate, uneducated, anti-intellectual, and bent on imposing a moral code on the rest of us that they can't be bothered to apply to themselves. Not the best image to present to the rest of the world.

Posted by: Reality-based | September 2, 2008 2:27 PM | Report abuse

Just for "kicks" what do you think the Right Wing Conservatives would be saying about "Family Values" if Biden had a seventeen year old daughter who was five months pregnant? I wonder how "Christian" they would be then?

Posted by: Ct Yankee | September 2, 2008 2:34 PM | Report abuse

Spot on. We have to distinguish between:

1) allowing the Palins, and especially their daughter, the privacy to deal with a difficult personal situation as they see fit; and

2) refusing to criticize Gov. Palin's advocacy, and the advocacy of the Religious Wrong in general, of so-called "family values" policies.

Everybody should accept (1). But everybody should also reject (2).

And if discussing issues like sex education and family planning are suddenly going to become "PRIVATE" issues to Gov. Palin, one wonders why she and other social conservatives ever made them matters of PUBLIC policy in the first place.

Posted by: Matt | September 2, 2008 2:37 PM | Report abuse




Posted by: H J McCullough, Haddonfield, N J | September 2, 2008 2:44 PM | Report abuse

What would have been the reactions of the conservatives had Chelsea Clinton had an out-of-wedlock child?

Posted by: Bill Plummer | September 2, 2008 2:48 PM | Report abuse

Reality-based wrote: "If your family is as screwed up as Palin’s seems to be..."

then I think you're probably pretty average.

If you didn't (choose one or more): drink, smoke, have sex or otherwise defy the guidance of your caring parents at some point in your youth, then you are either dishonest or a monk destined for sainthood. Either way not fit to pass judgment on others (as, undoubtedly, your enlightened belief system rejects).

I don't recall anyone in the current presidential telling me (preaching or proselytizing) how to live my life--that's only if you ignore the target audience for Obama's father's day speech).

Posted by: Anonymous | September 2, 2008 2:48 PM | Report abuse

Or what if Slick Willy got Monica pregnant?!?

(Or did he?)

Posted by: ClintonBasher | September 2, 2008 2:50 PM | Report abuse

Mary wrote: "That is why we say the unborn child has a fundamental individual right to life which cannot be infringed. We support a human life amendment to the Constitution and we endorse legislation to make it clear that the 14th Amendment's protections apply to unborn children.

For reference, the following is section 1 of the 14th amendment dealing with protections:
"1. All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws."

First, you do realize that this section of the 14th amendment is what gives gays the rights to marry right? Since this part of the Constitution requires equal protection of the laws, it means a man and woman cannot enter into a legal agreement that members of the same sex cannot.

But that aside, the Consititution is pretty clear that only those "born" are citizens. This of course could be changed with another amendment. But what I have not heard much about is how the laws would work in this new world where a fertilized embryo after a night of frolicking becomes a United States Citizen. Here are just a few things to consider when you advocate for a zygote to have the full protection of United States government law:

-Anyone who has a miscarriage would have to be investigated as currently happens when crib death occurs to determine whether a homocide, negligent or a higher degree, may have occured.
-Women who do not follow doctors requirements for a healthy pregnancy who miscarry could be charged with negligent homocide.
-A woman could obtain life insurance on her zygote, leading to insurance companies scrambling to insure zygotes of which only 1/3 normally survive to birth. Forced miscarriages would be a life insurance scam.
-A woman who has had multiply miscarriages due to her anatomy/physiology, that again gets pregnant, could be ordered by her doctor or police to be held in a hospital until the baby is born, and if she disobeyed the police and miscarries, she could go to jail for willful homocide.
-A special unit of the police and federal authority would need to be set up to protect this new level of citizen. Congress and state legislatures would need to develop new laws to govern this new level of citizen.
-If a woman is in danger of dying without an abortion and the fetus cannot yet live outside the mother's womb, a special judge would need to be brought in to determine which of the two should survive since both the fetus and mother have the same rights under the 14th amendment and the equal protection clause would not allow one to be favored for survival, so in these cases, the woman would be chosen to be hospitalized until death 50% of the time to bring the fetus as close to maturity as possible.
-A woman, upon learning she was pregnant, would be required to register the new "citizen" and get a social security number. She would be required to inform the government of any change in her pregnancy, and issues or problems would be reviewed by a government bureaucrat.

There are more changes to law and society possible. All I ask is that those of you asking for zygotes to become citizens under the Constitution just think for a minute how the world would change and how government would be all over you and your womb as they work to protect what you feel today is not protected under law. Be careful what you ask for.

Posted by: Fate | September 2, 2008 2:53 PM | Report abuse

LOL. I love the liberal press writing columns and hosting long TV debates about whether the issue us fair game.

If hateful liberals think this smearing of a family is the line of attack they want to persue, it speaks mountains about their lack of decency.

Posted by: rmorrow | September 2, 2008 2:54 PM | Report abuse

"Nonetheless"? What the hell? Are you kidding?

Just because you can work the keyboard does not mean you have to. Maybe you should just lie down. Have a nap. Maybe a little soup...

Posted by: Jim Pharo | September 2, 2008 2:59 PM | Report abuse

This is an interesting blog ... we can't discuss anything that a candidate's kid might have done because we'll be attacking the kid ... ARE YOU KIDDING ME???
Leave Bristol alone but discuss the issue ... and all you right-to-lifers? Get a grip. The young girl had a CHOICE ... one that was NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS ... whether she was a minor or not.
Posted by: Mego | September 2, 2008 1:55
Most are focusing in the wrong quadrant of this issue:
The issue is the qualifications and character of Sarah Palin, not her daughter.
Forget the child's choices.
Concentrate of Ms. Palin's choice:
Think about this:
Her family secret is now plastered across headlines all around the world.
Her daughter will not be able to go ANYWHERE that someone won't say, "Aren't you ...?"
She's the Far Right's newest Monica Lewinsky. Monica can't go anywhere without questions, either.
That's what these people do to anyone who is the subject of their salacious interest.
My question is this:
What kind of a mother would impale her daughter on the altar of her naked political ambition?
Could Sarah Palin, considering all the human lives for whom she bears responsibility and service, not have said, "Thanks, Mr. McCain, but no thanks. I can't do this to my family."
Now, THAT would have been REAL moral courage.
Ms. Palin wants every issue to revert back to her: it's all about her, nobody else.
Well, I too agree that it's all about Sarah Palin -- not her husband, not her children.
It could be said of her that beauty is only skin deep and that cliche would be correct.
We need to look deeper into the decisions she made in her life and recognize that actions do have consequences, not only for herself, but for everyone around her.
Sarah Palin has demonstrated such an appalling lack of concern for anyone but herself that Americans should not let her anywhere near a position of governmental authority, much less within a heartbeat of the Mount Everest of all decision-making positions.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 2, 2008 3:01 PM | Report abuse

Imagine the implications for illegal immigration! An embryo conceived in, for example, Mexico and smuggled across the U.S. border--no longer would place of live birth constitute citizenship. Let's see our masterful government try to prove where conception took place, will you!

Posted by: BornHere | September 2, 2008 3:04 PM | Report abuse

I'm more upset with everything else Palin has been reported to have done, from the Troopergate investigation to the attempt to censor library books and attempting to fire the librarian when the librarian opposed, to firing everyone people to maintain a government owned dairy that had been recommended for closure and then when it was losing money sticking the taxpayers with the loss.

Everything I have read shows this woman to be arrogant, ready to fire anyone that disagrees with her, and seems unable to deal with the day to day functions of office. Where in God's name did McCain find this person? I expect as the press sets up shop in Alaska we will hear more about Palin. My guess is her 17 year old daughter ending up pregnant will pale compared to the things she did while mayor and governor, and she just hired a lawyer to defend her in the Troopergate investigation. You know what they say when a suspect lawyers up.

Posted by: Fate | September 2, 2008 3:07 PM | Report abuse

I agree with the post that states we need to send Gov. Palin home to be with her kids. How can she possibly claim to be pro-family while planning to subject her 17 year old to this kind of pressure. If she had "just said no" to Sen. McCain then the world would not be judging Bristol Pailin. I also wonder how she intends to care for a special needs child while at the same time taking on the vice-presidency. Maybe if she walked the walk instead of just talking the talk, her oldest wouldn't feel he needs to put his life on the line and the 17 year old wouldn't have to get pregnant to get mom's attention.

Posted by: pellis | September 2, 2008 3:17 PM | Report abuse

I heard it was the brother-in-law Trooper who actually knocked-up the teenage daughter and it took this long to find a "boyfriend" to put in the picture.

PLEASE SKIP THE GOSSIP! How can anyone discern the truth in this cesspool?

Posted by: TrooperSnooper | September 2, 2008 3:28 PM | Report abuse

Awesome! Well put Cohen.

Posted by: workinwithu | September 2, 2008 3:30 PM | Report abuse

Looking at many of the comments on this thoughtful opinion, seems that the blind republican followers can't seem to distinguish between discussing public policies of their leaders and not discussing their private failures.

It is about time the media called the Republicans on their hysterical attempts (especially on air or print) to shut down valid debates.

Posted by: thinkagain | September 2, 2008 3:32 PM | Report abuse

See what happens when you under-fund sex education and free distribution of contraception in schools and just rely on an abstinance policy!

Posted by: Sue Ann | September 2, 2008 3:43 PM | Report abuse

And since their politics is the politics of the GOP and those assembled in St. Paul, we have a right, and perhaps even an obligation, to comment on this matter.

Aha, since the Dems have no principles at all - then it is perhaps your "obligation" to comment and point out that a 17 year old didn't listen to her parents????

The WaPo opinion page is full of these rationalizations. If it were a Dem candidate the PC police, led by WaPo types would say "don't print anything about this story!"

You intentionally squashed any mention about John Edwards' affair while he was a candidate for president trucking his cancer stricken wife around for sympathy votes! But now you rationalize your sick feeding off a 17 year old girl's difficulties. And talk about how you shouldn't really talk about it.

Bottom feeders all of you!!

Posted by: Typical WP | September 2, 2008 4:06 PM | Report abuse

The issue in Roe v Wade: What is the value of an woman or sexually mature child? Are back ally abortions, accidental poisonings, inter-couple murders and the unimaginable list of cruelties we visit on ourselves and our loved ones a bigger threat to society than contraception and abortions carried out by qualified Doctors.

Posted by: itwasbad | September 2, 2008 4:09 PM | Report abuse

Sarah Palin's family values leave a lot to be desired. How could she choose to go on the road with John McCain and forgo the nurturing and early intervention her son will need. Ambition trumps family values and the most innocent among us is left by the side of the road. I guess she expects him to pull himself up by his own booty straps.

Posted by: MGR | September 2, 2008 4:11 PM | Report abuse

"For while the Palins are free to handle this situation in the way they see fit -- Bristol will carry to term and marry the father -- the same sort of freedom is not what they would permit others."

You can say that again, Mr. Cohen!

"By all means, give the Palins the privacy they seek. But by all means, can we ask them why won’t give the rest of us the privacy we seek?"

WAHOOOOO!!! What a knockout punch of a question! Yes, yes, yes! Get conservative nosy busybodies out of our lives! Thank you, Mr. Cohen!!!

Posted by: wpreader2007 | September 2, 2008 4:12 PM | Report abuse

Good going here... Let us ALL HAVE OUR OWN PRIVACY and STOP telling us what we can do with our own bodies!

Posted by: MK | September 2, 2008 4:16 PM | Report abuse

While here in America--a.k.a. the world's only "superpower"--we bicker over gutter partisan politics, Putin is lining up his tanks to corner the remainder of the oil and gas supply to Europe and China that he doesn't already control.

Us poor, ignorant fools.

Posted by: BearAwakens | September 2, 2008 4:24 PM | Report abuse

Put yourself in Sarah Palin’s shoes as of late last week when McCain called her up and asked her to join the GOP ticket.

They both knew about the problem with the trooper ex-brother in law, but that could be dismissed as sour grapes or a politically motivated investigation.

They both knew about the pregnant 17 year old daughter.

As a person who claims to have strong family values, Palin had to be thinking about her family and the scrutiny that a national race would have on every member of the family (no matter how many people declare the family of candidates off-limits.)

That impact is all the greater on an undoubtedly vunerable pregnant single teen. 17 year olds make mistakes and they have to live with their mistakes, but every parent wants those mistakes to be as private as possible so that the fragile and only partially developed youngster can learn to live with their mistake without the inquiry (and implicit criticism) of the community (or worse, the nation).

Most every parent defers some part of their life or their ambition in order to ensure that they can do everything possible to teach, comfort, and guide their children to young adulthood. Yet, Palin chose to pursue her ambition knowing that the mistake made by her daughter would be blared across the national media. This was a cruel decision that can only have served to hurt her daughter at a very fragile point in her life. More importantly, she could have said “NO” to McCain.

I guess ambition trumps family in the Palin household.

Posted by: balloulog | September 2, 2008 4:30 PM | Report abuse

One Republican supporter posted the following: "Some of government's primary responsibilities are to regulate or provide, with prudence, the resources and institutions that pertain to the common good; to remove the administration of justice from passion and self-interest and establish it on the basis of law; and, in a civilized society, to remove the capacity to take life from private hands."

However, what the poster forgot is that George W. Bush and the Republican party have done none of the above, and for this reason should not be permitted by the people of the United States to govern.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 2, 2008 4:37 PM | Report abuse

yes, the Palins' should be allowed to slink back to their private lives and be left alone. If, however, they choose to run for Vice President, prosteletize and try to tell the rest of us how we should live - their lives are not private, they are public. It is not the young lady's fault - it is her mother's. She home schooled her daughter, taught her nothing but abstenance, and that the great spirit in the sky created us and now her mother wants to be considered for the 2nd highest office in the land! Come on now! That speaks to the competance, judgement and even sanity of her mom in my opinion.

Posted by: steve | September 2, 2008 4:39 PM | Report abuse

"By all means, give the Palins the privacy they seek. But by all means, can we ask them why [sic] won’t give the rest of us the privacy we seek?"

Simple: because the privacy they seek doesn't involve killing another human being . . . and the "privacy" you seek is more properly called murder.

Posted by: Stephen | September 2, 2008 4:47 PM | Report abuse

Yes, by all means, let them have their privacy--that is of course after you have published, and used the situation as is convenient for whatever your political affiliation or outlook may be. Regarding a family that was obscure one week ago, an amazing number of people seem to have perfect insight.

Posted by: jake | September 2, 2008 4:49 PM | Report abuse

Hey, Let's talk health insurance here>

1. Where does Ms. Palin stand on universal health care?

2. What insurance is she using to pay for the exorbitant health care expenses of a Downe's syndrome baby? Health insurance she gets as the Governor?

3. What health insurance will be used to pay for the prenatal care and delivery, associated with the pregnancy of her unwed daughter? Health insurance the Governor gets?

4. Do all the residents of Alaska have the same quality of health insurance as the Governor?

That's the kind of questions that Democrats should be asking. Leave the daughter alone... but bring their "real life middle class family situation", which the Republicans are trying to spin, into the real world of health insurance costs. Let's see how middle class the Palin's and the McCain's are when we put them to the health insurance test...

Posted by: Rocketjs | September 2, 2008 4:52 PM | Report abuse

Why don't we delve in to Obama's personal life? Has he had relations before or since his marriage? Does he have children by other women? His "Father of my dreams" impregnated several women including Obama's 17 years old freshman college student but hhe had at least two families in Kenya and one in London.
Let's examine both very carefully. Please Richard stop putting your values on other people. Why not be a real reporter rather than whining like Obama all the time.

Posted by: russell james | September 2, 2008 4:55 PM | Report abuse

Yes there are some who wish to outlaw all abortions all the time.
And then there are others who would allow all abortions all the time.
The vast majority of Americans, including Republicans, fall in between.
As I understand it the majority of Conservatives wish to return the legislation of abortion rights for mothers, fathers, and the unborn to the states.
It is a lie of the Left that overturning Roe would make abortion illegal.
For many honorable people it is a question of Federalism Mr. Cohen but you are too busy being snide to allow for the faint possibility that Constitutional questions might be involved.

In a just world Mr Cohen you would be drummed out of the punditocracy because of your vile and dishonest promotion of the Iraq War.
Further you would be jailed because you were warned of the anthrax danger in advance, took Cipro, and yet failed to warn your fellow Americans.
To this day you refuse to divulge who warned you.
So spare us your faux morality Cohen.
Your man Hussein Obama also favors restrictions on abortion that many on the Left find oppressive.
Where is your attack on him?

Posted by: JamesT | September 2, 2008 4:57 PM | Report abuse

I like the way Cohen wrote this:

"Yes, it is a private matter...let's not bring up the Palins.

BUT in the Palin household....

Again, this is private, lets keep the Palin's out of it...

In the Palin family....."

That was his basic article.. NICE

Posted by: Matteucs | September 2, 2008 4:59 PM | Report abuse

Also, basically, everyone is blasting Gov Palin and her family because her daughter got pregnant, but is going ahead with the birth, and getting married (supposedly).

People are saying that the values and the judgement is lacking...that Palin shouldnt be preaching to anyone because she somehow screwed up here...

Where is the outrage over the admittance by Obama that he did hard drugs as a youth, and into college?

Posted by: Matteucs | September 2, 2008 5:04 PM | Report abuse

She can have privacy if Bush stops wire tapping us.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 2, 2008 5:05 PM | Report abuse

Please don't try to stop Cohen and his ilk from trashing the life of a 17 year old for political gain. It only makes stronger the case to vote for McCain. Think of the decisions that McCain and Palin have faced down: freedom or torture and possible death; Downs child at 44 in a governorship; Versus: Obama, which ballet school to enroll the kids in, or how much of a book advance to take.

While Washington harbors an unlimited pool of self-absorbed and delusional hacks, such as Cohen, America is not stupid.

Let the Dems spew hate.

Posted by: Rebel | September 2, 2008 5:09 PM | Report abuse

If Republicans believe in Freedom than Freedom for the RIGHT TO CHOOSE should be included. I thought GOP was for less Govt? So why is their number one priority to have the Govt in my bedroom and my body? We absolutely have the right to discuss in great length what is going on at the potentially next VP's household.

Posted by: Lucy N. | September 2, 2008 5:15 PM | Report abuse

All you right wingers defending Palin while attacking the writer...GET OVER IT. Palin wants privacy, but does not mind making her own private business 'gummint' business when it suits her-such as over her ex brother in law.

She also doesn;t mind making YOUR private business government business to meet her personal beliefs.

Thats the problem, and YES, she should be CALLED on that HYPOCRICY. Like all good Republcians, rules only apply to lesser people, not them.

Posted by: TortFeezer | September 2, 2008 5:42 PM | Report abuse

The hypocrisy of this woman asking for privacy after she's been pimping her son's enlistment and deployment, using it as a talking point for the GOP, is despicable. She's despicable.

Posted by: dyliepie | September 2, 2008 6:03 PM | Report abuse

I love how the right try to turn this into something about the Democrats. hey. this is your VP candidate- for the party of "do as I say not as I do". I have no problem with a woman with 5 kids doing whatever she wants- but the evangelicals and those who pander to them are always harping about a woman being at home to raise her children, the sin of pre-marital sex, and the glory of abstinence only education. And family- every right wing commentator has said every nasty thing they can- largely false - about Obama's family, parents, relatives. So don't play the "we are so righteous" card- glass houses and stones.

Posted by: andrea | September 2, 2008 6:37 PM | Report abuse

I see. If you are prolife and believe in traditional values you cannot make any mistakes in life. It is obvious that the bloggers and columnist have two things in common. First, neither they nor their family members have ever made a mistake. In fact if someone got pregnant and did not want the child, they would just kill her/him before they totally left the womb. Second, their goal is simply to attack and discredit any Republican nominee so that their Democratic candidates will win in November. Duh!

Posted by: rljmsilver | September 2, 2008 6:37 PM | Report abuse

You had me until your attack on the "down syndrome child." Cohen seems to imply that the child DESERVED termination; as if it were her obligation to do so.

I strongly object to Ms Palin's pro-life for all political stance, but I draw the line when it is implied that she should have terminated her pregnancy because of the fact the baby has Trisomy 21. She should be applauded for this decision, not derided.

But the fact is that she is her politics, and if she's elected, you can bet that she would take action to remove choice from all. That's the issue.

And Mr. Cohen, in the year 2008 we say "a child with Down syndrome" not a Down's child. He is a person first, not his condition.

Posted by: CarlinAustin | September 2, 2008 6:43 PM | Report abuse

Nothing new from you. The name of your column is so descriptive of every word that comes off your finger tips...every in and day out! In politics, partisan literally means organized into political parties. The expression "Partisan politics" usually refers to fervent, sometimes militant support of a party, cause, faction, person, or idea. This term is typically an appellation with negative connotations.

Negative Connotations should the name of your column. I won't read your vitriol any more!

Posted by: Alex | September 2, 2008 6:51 PM | Report abuse

It's no longer a private matter if a Republicans involved. They have no right to privacy. The same rules don't apply to them, they have had to much given to them already, they control all the oil, wealth, medical care, energy, water, air, banks and insurance companies. The only thing between the American People and slavery imposed by the Republicans is Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi.

Posted by: KarlMarx | September 2, 2008 6:55 PM | Report abuse

The republicans claim that you don't have to be without fault to strive to do whats right- Hypocrisy in full bloom. If you aren't without fault you have no right judging others or their actions. Telling people how to live, what kind of car to drive, or how to respect others is reserved for the elite among us-the Democrats.

Posted by: Lodie | September 2, 2008 7:01 PM | Report abuse

A million years ago -- OK, last week -- I said to my husband, "Boy, I'll bet Sarah Palin doesn't have a clue what's about to happen to her."

Little did I know. And sadly, little did Bristol know -- and even if she did, did she have any voice or choice in the matter?

But that's really not the worst part of it. The Palins might have been naive about the level of scrutiny to which they were about to undergo.

But John McCain, having been shanked in the ribs by the Rovians in South Carolina, surely did. More to the point, since thatattack was based on whether his adopted daughter Bridget was instead his black "love child," he also had to be aware of the impact on a child of being the subject of a political mudwrestling match.

So if he was, in fact, aware that Palin's 17-year-old daughter was pregnant when he made his pick, that only shows that he was willing to sacrifice this vulnerable teenager's privacy for his own political benefit.

How truly cynical is that?

It's one thing that McCain has been willing to sell out his own (formerly maverick) beliefs; it's a whole different matter that he is willing to sell out this teenager, her family, and her parents for some momentary political gain.

Shame on you, John McCain.

Posted by: Ann | September 2, 2008 7:22 PM | Report abuse

What choice? It's almost pain stakingly clear that Bristol pretty much wasn't given a choice. Sarah Palin decided what her daughter was going to do, which is have that baby and run off and marry the father whether that's what's best or not. The NY Times alleged in an article that the apple doesn't fall far from the tree. Sarah Palin herself eloped with her 1/8 Eskimo knight in '88 and gave birth just 8 months later.

I find it quite interesting that this is considered such a private matter when the Republicans have made it a point to hunt down and out the personal family issues of Democratics. It's even more ironic that that have the nerve to associate Sarah Palin's committal to campaigning during a crisis in her family to that of Edwards campaign during his wife's cancer battle. This is especially crazy when they raked him over hot coals for continuing to to campaign at that time.

I also find it hilarious that republicans use the Obama celebrity defense as a perfect reason why he can't be president. Republicans are perfectly content to use "The Arnold's" celebrity to make things happen.

Posted by: Reju4nate | September 2, 2008 7:25 PM | Report abuse

"I thought GOP was for less Govt?"
-- Lucy N.


No, no, no -- that was the OLD Republican party. Rhetoric notwithstanding, the NEW Republican party is for less government ONLY WHEN IT FULFILLS THEIR OWN INTERESTS. They are quite happy to promote more government whenever that will fulfill those interests better than less.

And of course, hey're also happy to declare anyone who points out the glaring discrepancy between their small-government rhetoric and their Big-Brother behaviors an unprincipled Godless socialist. It is well past time that someone in the Democratic party grew a backbone and publicly let the bullies have it with a Welch-to-McCarthy "Have you no sense of decency, at long last?"

Posted by: Matt | September 2, 2008 7:35 PM | Report abuse

This happened before the Palin pick:
"We learned this week that John McCain really wanted to choose his very good friend, Joe Lieberman, for VP but caved into pressure from the religious right.
McCain will save his Lieberman pick for the Supreme Court — sorry evangelicals but you’ll have no leverage on Maverick McCain by then. Your Vice President will have no power in the process and a Democratic majority will happily confirm pro-choice Lieberman to the Supreme Court!
Check Mate!"
Please reflect on what the 'Check Mate!' means --- perhaps it is too subtle?

Posted by: Thoren58 | September 2, 2008 9:41 PM | Report abuse

Unless they marry before the election, I don't believe it when Palin says they will marry. After all this is the same young man whose blog site had to be taken down by the Republicans because he said he was a f***ing red-neck and didn't want any kids.

Does this man sound like he is willingly ready to take on the responsibility of marriage and fatherhood? What caused his sudden change of heart? What is he being promised to walk down that aisle?

Posted by: Can't Fool Us That This is a Volunteer Marriage | September 3, 2008 2:02 PM | Report abuse

I don't give a damn what her daughter and crazy boyfriend do.

Palin is a fake selling snake oil with John McCain. Just wait and see if they manage to get elected!

Posted by: sanity | September 3, 2008 2:35 PM | Report abuse

How nice and white? Almost spotlessly so.
I thought about bleach all the way through.

Now I definately know who I want as President and Vice President:

a man who is disorented on stage,

and a woman who pees in the words, then puts on lipstick and goes out to dinner.

I'm so impressed by the United States!

God bless America!

Posted by: sanity | September 4, 2008 8:42 AM | Report abuse

I'm not convinced that either McCain and Palin are capable of positive real change in this country. To begin with, and with all due respect for McCain's military background, neither of them represents Americans of today. Neither one of them are in touch with the realities of the problems this country truly faces. And they are incapable of intelligently discussing these issues.

The choice of Palin by McCain displays his ineptness. She has no meaningful experience worth a hoot regardless of the spin doctors. And I could deliver a speech just as well if Mr. Gerson or the actual speechwriter wrote one for me to deliver.
After all, she was well coached. She did a good job of it, there's no denying that, but delivering a speech does not qualify you to be Vice President or more likely President.

McCains health is a major issue also here.
After eight disastrous, wasteful years of Bush do we as patriotic Americans want not only more of the same, but additional devestating agendas from the Supreme Court and the religious right? I think not!

Posted by: sanity | September 5, 2008 8:25 AM | Report abuse

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