U.S. Sen. Mazie Hirono is being accused of proselytizing about abortion to a group of eighth graders.
Hirono recounted her discussion with the students during an abortion rights rally in Washington on Tuesday, and video of her description of the exchange has stirred outrage on some mainland conservative media outlets.
Speaking into a bullhorn, Hirono told those at the rally, “I just left 60 eighth graders from a public school in Hawaii, and I told them I was coming to a rally in front of the Supreme Court and they said, ‘Why?’ And I said it’s because we have to fight for abortion rights, and they knew all about it.
“And I asked the girls in that group of eighth graders, ‘How many of you girls think the government should be telling us women when and if we wanna have babies?’ Not a single one of them raised their hands,” Hirono told the demonstrators.
The crowd applauded, and Hirono continued: “The boys who were there among the 60, I said, ‘You know, it’s kind of hard for a woman to get pregnant without you guys.’ They got it. ‘How many of you boys think that government should be telling girls and women when and if we’re gonna have babies?’ And not a single one of them raised their hands.”
State Rep. Bob McDermott (R, Ewa Beach-Iroquois Point) said it was “totally, totally wrong for her to proselytize her far-left views to eighth graders. I go to speak to schools all the time. I never do that.”
McDermott said he confines those exchanges to subjects such as legislative process or how a bill becomes a law, and keeps the discussion “totally nonpartisan when you’re talking to kids, because they’re not your kids. They’re somebody else’s kids, and why are you trying to brainwash them?”
“I think it’s inappropriate, and I think she should know better,” he added.
The students had been visiting Hirono in Washington as part of a class trip.
Hirono’s staff said the abortion discussion with the students came at the end of a 20-minute question-and- answer session that touched on issues such as climate change, bullying in school and parents who need to work multiple jobs to support their families.
When the senator said she had to leave to go to a rally, she was asked about the subject of the demonstration. She replied it was about “the right to choose,” which prompted the exchange. Hirono’s staff declined to identify which school the students were from.
“The senator is forthright in her answers to questions from students, as she was in this case,” said Will Dempster, spokesman for Hirono.
Eva Andrade, president of Hawaii Family Forum, which describes itself as a pro- family organization that represents the faith-based community, said her office received about a half-dozen calls about the video clip.
“We live in a wonderful state that’s diverse, and it’s full of wonderful beliefs and people from different sides,” Andrade said, “and it just would be really good if our congresswomen and men would remember that there’s a lot of people in the state that would not agree.”
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