Thursday, April 4, 2013

On #FierceFlores, SexEd, & Sharron Angle's "Second Amendment Remedies"

What a week this has been. On Tuesday, the Nevada Legislature held its first hearing on AB 230, the comprehensive sex education bill. Sin City Siren told us about Assembly Member Lucy Flores (D-North Las Vegas) and her heart wrenching testimony on Tuesday. Yet while that moved us to tears, others had a very different reaction.

On Tuesday, Lucy Flores told her story of seeking an abortion at age 16 because she didn't have the kind of SexEd that AB 230 calls for. Her mother left the family when she was 9, so her father had to work 2 jobs to support her family. And after seeing all her sisters become pregnant as teenagers, Flores did not want to meet the same fate.

“I didn’t want to be like that (teen mom)," Flores said. “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.”

Flores said she didn’t regret having the abortion. Clearly, however, it was difficult to talk about it.

“I don’t regret it,” Flores said. “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? We prevent by education," Flores said. "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).

This was incredibly moving testimony. Yet for anti-choice extremists, this was a call to arms. Oh yes, that's right. Sharron Angle and her "Second Amendment Remedies" struck again! Sin City Siren has more.

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. [...]

Those opposed to reproductive health care —lest I remind you that abortion is a legal form of health care —and those opposed to comprehensive sex education share the same goal: To silence and shame women. They seek to demonize human sexuality.

The real story here should be about Lucy Flores’ bravery and determination to not be shamed or silenced by the threats of an incredibly loud opposition, who is actually in the minority. Polls show that regardless of religious affiliation or political party, the majority of Americans support comprehensive sex education over an abstinence-only curriculum. And, on this year’s 40th anniversary of Roe v Wade, the Pew Research Center released a poll stating that 42 percent of Americans find no moral objection to abortion, while only 25 percent do (the rest were a mix of other opinions). An NBC Poll that same week found support for abortion rights at an “all time high” with 70 percent of Americans saying they do not want to see Roe overturned.

But while the anti-choice folks have made hay with headlines declaring, “I Don’t Regret Killing My Baby,”* it is disturbing that any person or persons have threatened the Nevada lawmaker with violence. As a Christian and a mother, I pray for her safety. When I tucked my toddler into bed tonight, I hugged her that much harder as I struggled to hold back tears thinking about Lucy Flores, not because we should condescend to characterizing even highly educated, powerful women as simply “somebody’s daughter,” but because Lucy is a fellow human being living with fear tonight. I have empathy for the worry she must feel.

It is this complete lack of empathy that is at the core of the opposition to women’s autonomy, and their access to legal forms of health care, or even the education that can help them establish healthy relationships, healthy sexual experiences, and healthy futures. Rather than live and let live —or even turn the other cheek, as Jesus might say —the anti-choice movement cannot see the humanity in any person not living their life as a man in a heterosexual man’s world. Because if you are anything other than a heterosexual, cisgender man you are cast as unequal, weak, or even deviant. I daresay the only humans who come close to having equality with men in their patriarchal, misogynistic, homophobic, and often blatantly racist world-view are the fetuses they fight so hard to legally classify as “persons.”

So now, #FierceFlores is trending on Twitter. She is showing tremendous courage by sharing her story, and by refusing to back down in the wake of death threats. She is a woman who had to make a difficult choice. And she should be commended for what she's done with her life since then. She shouldn't be threatened with murder.

And really, when did advocacy for comprehensive SexEd start warranting death threats? Hello, comprehensive SexEd saves lives! And it means fewer teen pregancies, which also means fewer abortions. Is the extreme anti-choice religious right that out of touch with reality?

And that leads us to the other hot zone of public policy that this story leads us to. Just this past Tuesday, (Member of Congress) Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-New York) received death threats for her gun safety reform advocacy. Again, when did this behavior become acceptible? When did Sharron Angle become a "source for good advice"? Just about 48 hours after this and less than a week after Steven Brooks was expelled from the Nevada Legislature for allegedly threatening the life of Assembly Speaker Marilyn Kirkpatrick (D-North Las Vegas), this happened.

Again, comprehensive SexEd saves lives. So why threaten people's lives over this? Perhaps it's finally time for the right wing to stop paying so much attention to Sharron Angle. It's time to stop with the "Second Amendment Remedies".

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