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Midland and Odessa, which are together home to about a quarter-million people, lie in the second most Republican congressional district in the nation.Many school officials here reject modern sexual practices, like quickie hookups, as immoral. Unlike other cities, though, Midland and Odessa lack the parachutes—abortion clinics and free-flowing birth control—that are usually available to sexually active teens.
Over the next three days, Misty would deploy a mix of goal-setting, real talk, and gag-inducing pictures of gonorrhea in an effort to convince her captive teenage audience to save themselves for marriage.
The teens slouched and giggled at the mention of sex.
One girl kept in a single earbud, like a diplomat awaiting a translation to teenager-ese.
That’s a tall order anywhere, but perhaps even more so in West Texas, where there isn’t much for a young person to get up to beyond church and vice.
Midland and Odessa are canonically Texan: remote moonscapes studded with oil jacks and tied together with a 20-mile stretch of highway. Every year, our class made a pilgrimage to the town’s main cultural attraction, the Petroleum Museum.
” Misty asked, referring to the worksheet.“Anxiety,” one boy offered.“Obsession’s the one I’m looking for,” Misty said. And then Monday she had a big test, do you think she's concentrating on her test? ” several kids say.“What’s going on with her spiritually, in her inner man? “Restless spirit,” she says, answering her own question, “just with everything going on.”Over the next few days, Misty would expound the many pitfalls of fornication.
“In her mind, it's this going over and over and over, like: ‘Oh my gosh, are we going to stay together? Casual sex causes Sarah’s friends to gossip about her and leaves her “enslaved to pleasure and lust.” It can end in herpes and derail a college dream.“The chemicals in your brain learn what it feels like to have sex, and they want to have sex again,” Misty says.
Planned Parenthood is long gone, and both Midland and Odessa are now more than four hours away from the nearest abortion clinic.
Plus, there’s a 24-hour waiting period for an abortion in Texas, so women have to take multiple days off work or school to get one.
“The next morning,” she says, “he's gone.”Misty works at an organization called the Life Center, which is headquartered in the neighboring town of Midland.
They call themselves a pregnancy resource center, preferring that to the term many pro-choice advocates use: crisis pregnancy center.
ODESSA, Texas—Misty Stewart gave the worksheet to every student in the class: “The purpose of sex is for bonding and babies,” it read.