Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin's announcement that her 17-year-old daughter is five months pregnant and plans to marry the child's father has sparked impassioned conversation among voters, and "Good Morning America" has decided to host a randomly selected, all-female roundtable to discuss the impact of the revelation.
For homemaker and former nurse Maureen Griffin, the news didn't change her view of the Alaskan governor.
"It makes me think more highly of her. Not that, I'm sorry — everyone has made mistakes in life. It may not be in that area. And you can look at her and say, 'You must've been a horrible mother," Griffin said adding, "Show me a person who can fully control her teenager."
Zoo manager Jill Space said she was pleased to learn of Bristol Palin's plans.
"I'm glad she's having the baby. I see she's gonna marry the father. And whether that works out or not, the baby deserves a life," Space said.
One woman wondered if politicians would try to use the Palins' situation to gain traction with voters.
"They may use her as she's a morally and ethical person because she's choosing the right thing," said Janna Zinzi, an independent journalist and youngest panel member.
Creating an Open Dialogue
The response to the Palins' revelation goes beyond highlighting the presidential race and delves deeply into familial territory.
"This is an opportunity to really address how we're educating our kids about sex," said "GMA" parenting contributor Ann Pleshette Murphy.
One thing the group, which was made up of John McCain and Barack Obama supporters from New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, agreed upon was that high school senior Palins pregnancy has opened the door for parents to talk to their children and sex and their familial values.
"It also opens up dialogue with my children about what our family values are and what we find acceptable," said homemaker Gale Meyer.
Zinzi had similar views.
"I don't have children, but that this would open up that dialogue — that parents would be inspired to say, 'OK maybe this is an opportunity for me to sit down and talk to my kids about sex,'" she said.
But "GMA'"s Murphy emphasized that parents shouldn't wait until their children are in their late teens to have that conversation.
"You should be having the talk long before they are 17 years old, but especially if you do have a teenager who is in a serious relationship or who's madly in love, this is the opportunity to sit down and share your values," she said.
Murphy said it's fine for parents to support abstinence for their children.
"That's within the context of your family values, but what we have to be doing is at the same time is saying, 'If you do have sex we want you to use protection, because this is not just a pregnancy prevention issue.' Twenty-six percent of girls 14 to 19, that's 3 million kids, have a sexually transmitted disease. So to me they're not mutually exclusive. I think one of the opportunities here is to really be clear."