A family that politicized its children in one setting now wants privacy in another, while a party that has long rejected abortion-rights activists’ claims that reproductive freedoms spring from a right to privacy are now demanding privacy for Bristol Palin’s choice. A feminist friend of mine was so exasperated that she wrote, “Am I in a twilight zone or something? Republicans are running around saying pregnancy is a private family matter and that people can sometimes make mistakes? I don’t understand this; I think I should go back to bed.”

Lester Feder is a freelance reporter based in Washington, D.C., and a research scientist at George Washington University School of Public Health.