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Teens Respond To Palin, Daughter's Pregnancy
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Teens Respond To Palin, Daughter's Pregnancy

Election 2008

Teens Respond To Palin, Daughter's Pregnancy

Teens Respond To Palin, Daughter's Pregnancy
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Twenty-year-old Joannie Anderson, of Oswego, N.Y., reacts to Bristol Palin's pregnancy.
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Anderson, of Oswego, N.Y., shares more of her thoughts about the pregnancy.
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Drew Calderone, a 20-year-old from Volney, N.Y., shares his opinion.
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Jessica Martin, 22, from Camillus, N.Y., responds to the news.
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After Sarah Palin's speech Wednesday at the Republican National Convention, the governor's pregnant 17-year-old daughter joined the family on stage. Since her pregnancy was announced on Monday, Bristol Palin has quickly become the country's most famous pregnant teen.

But she is, of course, one of many. Teen pregnancies are up in virtually every social and ethnic group in the U.S.

In Los Angeles' Echo Park neighborhood, you can often find teen moms walking down the street with strollers. Among them is 18-year-old Silvia Figueroa, whose daughter, Caitlan, is 1 month and 11 days old.

Figueroa says she heard something about Bristol Palin on the news but didn't think much of it.

"Seventeen's not a big deal. A lot of girls get pregnant at that age," she says. "Most of the girls do it; I don't know why they make it a big thing. And that doesn't have anything to do with politics."

Across town, on the campus of the University of Southern California, Collins Bilton, 18, agreed with Figueroa and with Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama, whose mother was 18 when he was born. The Democratic contender says candidates' children should be off-limits.

"Obama's pretty much right," Bilton says. "You wouldn't get at anybody's child in a sports game. A political campaign's a lot bigger but it's still a competition; it's like a low blow."

Outside their USC dorms, which offer free condoms, 18-year-olds Kelly Baldwin, Maggie Garcia and Ross Nevdall offered their opinions.

"It's inappropriate, that she's 17 years old and she's pregnant," says Baldwin. "They're using it for McCain to get media."

"But that's real life," Garcia says.

Nevdall continues, "I think there's too much of a difference between political leadership and how you parent your children. The fact she's a teenager, it's not like you can totally control everything a teenager does — no matter how good of a parent you are."

Jessica Martin, 22, lives in Camillus, N.Y. She says she doesn't think any less of Palin because her daughter is pregnant.

"Perhaps if her daughter had been given some alternative information other than abstinence, she might not be in that situation," she says, adding, "I think that might give her a unique perspective. Having a wide range of children, one with Down syndrome, one who's obviously pregnant — that might give her a little more perspective and sympathy for the average Americans.

"A lot of times, we see politicians as people on pedestals, not real people," Martin says, "but this is as real as it gets."

As a Mormon in Salt Lake City, 19-year-old Elise Kitterman says she's a strong advocate of abstinence. But she says she also believes in free choice and she doesn't think Bristol Palin's boyfriend, Levi Johnston, or anyone else should be forced into a shotgun wedding.

"I don't think it's right to be like, 'OK, you knocked her up, it's time to get married,' " she says. "I don't think it's right at all."

At a high school day care center in Charleston, W.Va., Kimberly Fouty, 16, agreed that the news is a family issue. She says it doesn't reflect on what kind of mother Sarah Palin is to her children. And she empathizes with Bristol.

"It has to be hard for her," she says. "I know that it was hard for me, and I'm not even in the public eye. People give you funny looks and you see people whispering and you know they're talking about you. It's been really hard, but it's probably the greatest thing in the entire world. But I wish I had waited, though — 'cause it is very hard. The 3 a.m. feedings, having to make sure you don't screw anything up with the kids, it's hard."

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