When your state has the fourth highest teen pregnancy rate in the nation, and among the eight highest rates for repeat teen pregnancies, you’d think legislators might reconsider their abstinence-only sexual education programs. And, in the case of Nevada, you’d be right. Unfortunately, supporting sexual education and teen pregnancy prevention may prove deadly … as Democratic Nevada State Assembly Woman Lucy Flores has discovered.
Ray Hagar from the Reno Gazette Journal reported that on April 1st, Flores spoke in favor of Assembly Bill 230, which “revises provisions governing courses of instruction in sex education … to establish a comprehensive, age-appropriate and medically accurate course of instruction in sex education,” according to the language in the bill.
According to Hagar, Flores described a hardscrabble childhood with six sisters and a single father working two jobs to make ends meet, then tearfully confessed to having an abortion at age 16.
There wasn’t a lot of supervision or sex education going on in this family, and Flores saw all six of her sisters become mothers in their teens:
“I learned from the very little education that I received in school and again, through relationships that I had growing up. I had six other sisters, all of them became pregnant in their teens – all of them. One was 14 years old when she got pregnant with twins. That is what I had to learn from.” [Source]
But Flores didn’t want early motherhood; she wanted a career and a chance to make a difference:
“I always said that I was the only one who didn’t have kids in their teen-aged years [referring to her family]. That’s because at 16, I got an abortion and it was a very difficult thing for me to do … Now in retrospect, if I could go back and be on birth control – or better yet – learn to fill my life with something else, other than having the attention of a man in the non-healthy relationship, I would have preferred to do that, if someone would have talked to me about it.” [Source]
So she mustered up enough courage to tell her father and ask him for money to terminate her pregnancy:
“I didn’t want to be like that [teen mom]. I wanted to do better and I knew I couldn’t do that if I had a baby, just like everyone else (in my family). My dad gave me the money and I went with a friend of mine [to have the abortion] and I will never forget that, having that done.” [Source]
And guess what? Flores bravely shunned mincing words and firmly said that she has no regrets about her difficult decision:
“I don’t regret it because I am here [at the Legislature], making a difference, at least in my mind, for the young ladies and letting them know their options. They can do things not to be in the situation I was in, to prevent it.
“And so how do we prevent this [teen pregnancy]? We prevent by education. We prevent by giving them the information and the resources that they need, so they don’t have to go to their dad and say, ‘I need $200 for an abortion.’
“So I wholeheartedly support this because this is an epidemic that is affecting so many of our young people. And I am here today because I did not have the burden of raising children (as a teen).” [Source]
Flores adds that she supports families, but wants teenagers to have the tools and education they need for making good choices:
“I just want to convey to you that yes, parenting is absolutely important and we have to support that. But we also have to think about so many of our kids who do not have that support. And so many of these kids who, just like me, are going through that.” [Source]
It took less than two days for the right-wing media to jump on Flores, and for the death threats to start arriving, as reported by Tara Culp-Ressler from Think Progress. All LifeNews.Com and their fellow pro-life media outlets had to do was waft red-meat headlines in the air — like “Democratic Legislator: I Don’t Regret Killing My Baby in Abortion” — and wait for the feeding frenzy to begin.
Local Sin City Siren blogger, Emmily Bristo, adds that Hagar was the only “mainstream media” journalist present during the testimony, and recaps the events:
“Within hours of the hearing, Reno Gazette-Journal political reporter Ray Hagar posted a story about Flores’ testimony. As far as I can tell, Hagar was the only mainstream journalist to cover the announcement, with his story posting about an hour before my re-cap of the hearing, here on The Sin City Siren. But just days later, local television producer Dana Gentry broke the news that Flores had cancelled her scheduled April 4 appearance on the political news show Ralston Reports after receiving death threats stemming from her abortion story.”
Bristol clearly worries that she and Hagar’s coverage of Flores’ testimony has put the lawmaker at risk, but defiantly refuses to let conservatives dominate the debate:
“I can’t help but wonder if Hagar and I share some indirect culpability in giving greater exposure to the kind of information that has been shown to incite anti-choice news outlets and organizations. But I refuse to let the anti-choicers dictate this news cycle. They would like nothing better than to steal focus from important reforms to Nevada’s current sex education law by throwing this political-grenade into the mix — distracting everyone with a drummed-up controversy about abortion using the age-old tactics of slut-shaming and blatant scare-tactics.”
Now, Flores’ supporters have given her a new nickname: “Fierce Flores,” and her cause has gone viral with two Twitter hash tags (#IHadAnAbortion and #fierceflores), a Tumblr on STFU, Conservatives, and counting. To stand with Flores and see a complete and frequently-updated list of media coverage and social media, visit Sin City Siren’s #FierceFlores Headquarters.
Meanwhile, Ralston Reports host John Ralston was forced to replace Flores with a dueling duo from the conservative Nevada Parents group (Karen England), and Nevada Planned Parenthood Affiliates (Elisa Cafferata). Luckily for him, this controversy probably got higher ratings than Flores’ planned appearance would have generated.
“The effort for expanding sex education for public school students in the state of Nevada is getting UGLY,” Ralston comments.
Here’s the video from the April 5 edition of Ralston Reports:
|Elisabeth Parker is a writer, Web designer, mom, political junkie, and dilettante. Come visit her at ElisabethParker.Com, “like” her on facebook, “friend” her on facebook, follow her on Twitter, or check out her Pinterest boards. For more Addicting Info articles by Elisabeth, click here.|