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Ten Better Things To Do With $30,000 Than Hire Bristol Palin to Speak

Written by Patrick Malone of SIECUS for - News, commentary and community for reproductive health and justice.

Articles this week across the internet reveal that half-term Alaska Governor Sarah Palin’s daughter, Bristol, is now available for speaking events such as “conferences, fundraisers, special events and holidays, as well as women's, youth, abstinence and ‘pro-life’ programs” for the low, low price of $30,000 a pop. 

Bristol is famous, of course, for becoming pregnant and having a baby as a teenager. 

Initially, when Bristol Palin’s pregnancy came into the spotlight during the 2008 presidential campaign, we shied away from commenting on it.  Even though it was extraordinarily tempting to point out the ridiculous hypocrisy and blatant cognitive dissonance that came from her mother’s position on abstinence-only-until-marriage programs even when faced with a pregnant adolescent, we respected the young Ms. Palin’s privacy and her personal choices.  I did not and do not blame Ms. Palin for her pregnancy any more than I hold at fault the myriad other teenage girls who become unintentionally pregnant because they are failed by schools, parents, educators, and policy makers.

However, Ms. Palin’s free pass has just expired for a couple reasons.  First, she is now nearly 20 years old.  She was born in the same year as actresses Kristin Stewart and Emma Watson of Twilightand Harry Potterfame, respectively, both of whom are the daily subject of news stories and coverage.  In other words, Bristol Palin is an adult and therefore should be treated as such. 

Second, I understand that being an adult does not necessarily make you fair game for criticism if you choose to live your life in a private manner.  However, Bristol has chosen to enter the realm of politics, and she has chosen to do so for profit.  As soon as anyone decides to take their personal story and turn it into a career speaking on an issue of national importance, I think we have the right and, dare I say it, the obligation to question the motives and qualifications of that person.  Bristol Palin wants to talk to you about abstinence-until-marriage, and man oh man, does she want you to pay to hear what she has to say.  So is she worth the $30,000?

Clearly, the answer is an unqualified and unmitigated “no.”  There is no reason to think that listening to Bristol Palin’s story is going to inform, educate, enrich, or stimulate you in any way.  But, if you happen to have $30,000 lying around and simply insist on spending it, let me suggest ten things you could do with that money that would be more productive than hiring Ms. Palin.

10)  Hire Max Siegel to speak – Max is a courageous young man and compelling speaker who was failed by abstinence-only-until-marriage programs and contracted HIV when he was 17.  Listening to his story will give your audience a real understanding of the true costs of abstinence-only-until-marriage programs and the damage they can cause to young people’s lives.  Plus, Max is a really nice guy and could probably use the $30,000 a lot more than Bristol.

9)  Hire an entry level staffer – Because of the bad economy, there are literally thousands of recent college graduates who are dedicated to the cause of sexual health and rights who are unable to find work and support themselves.  For $30,000, you could hire one of these promising young people.  Not only would you get a lot more than an hour's speech or a day of work out of them, you’d be giving an opportunity to the next generation of advocates to learn and grow.

8)  Donate to a state organization – Many state organizations that support sexual health and rights and comprehensive sex education are also feeling the pinch of hard economic times.  State governments are cutting their prevention budgets left and right.  Thirty thousand dollars could go a long way toward helping many organizations keep their doors open and continue their important on-the-ground work.  Don’t know where to find them?  Visit to find organizations that support comprehensive sex education in your state.

7)  Invest in your community – like state organizations, most local organizations and groups are struggling to make ends meet.  After-school programs and community groups can do a lot to give young people goals and focus and to curb teen pregnancy and other negative outcomes.  Similarly, a donation of $30,000 to your local Planned Parenthood would help insure that young women facing an unintended pregnancy would have the same opportunity to make choices that Bristol Palin did.

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