I have a serious question for the women and men of America: if your daughter got pregnant at 17, would she tell you? I think that this is a huge test of a parent/child relationship, and on this particular front Sarah Palin passed. Her daughter came to her, told her the truth, and asked for and received her support.
Elizabeth Foss has a great post on the subject.
As American Christians, it can be hard for us to see imperfection. We hang on to the idea that if someone else has "done it right," there is hope for us, and for our families, to come out right as well. As mothers in particular, from the beginning we must acknowledge that our children are their own people, weak in their own ways. We will do our best to teach them what we have learned, to share the Good News of Christ's love with them, but they must accept it for themselves, with the grace of God.
My prayer for my children is not that they would never make a mistake. Rather, my prayer for them is that they will always know that they can come to me when they need help, about decisions before they are made or the consequences afterwards, and that they will be greeted with the love and charity.
I am trying to make more frequent use of the Sacrament of Confession, and it helps me to think of God as a loving, if sometimes saddened, parent. He is sad because he knows that much of our suffering is of our own making. He is hopeful that we will learn enough to do better in the future. He offers us love and asks for our trust. He has given us this great sacrament so that our sins do not compound, so that the separation that we feel when we know we have done wrong does not build on itself, so that we do not entangle ourselves in a web of sins and lies in order to avoid facing up to our mistakes.
Right now, Bristol Palin is in my prayers. Think of what it would be like to tell your parents that you had become pregnant. Think of the social pressures of high school life. Think of the boy, his parents, and the pressures that others might put on you in the name of "choice." Then, multiply all of that and put it into the national spotlight. In addition to making a mistake, you have now shamed your parents on a national stage and jeopardized a great opportunity for your mother and the American people. You are just a little girl at heart, and you will be growing up fast.
The first principle of being pro-life has to be supporting women who are pregnant in any circumstance. How many abortions are likely chosen to avoid the shame of an out of wedlock pregnancy? This young girl has shown great courage in not taking the "easy way out." She has shown that her parents have raised her with great morality. Good Counsel homes and other groups are overwhelmed with requests for support from young women who find themselves pregnant and abandoned by families and partners, women who are open to allowing the baby conceived of their mistake to live its life, women who themselves seek job training and education in the hopes that the child may have better opportunities.
Holy Mary, pray for us, and for our nation.