The life of a Latina assemblywoman in Nevada has been threatened after she used a story about her own personal abortion experience at age 16 to make a point about the importance of sex education.
"I’m going to say something I’ve never said publicly before, because — Why not? I’ve been open about everything else?" Democratic Assemblywoman Lucy Flores reportedly told the state Assembly Education Committee on Monday. "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."
"I had an abortion because I didn’t have access to birth control, or even an understanding of what that meant," she explained. “I didn’t even understand that my worth did not come from men, or sex with men, trying to fill up a hole in me from so much pain.”
Nevada's Assembly Bill 230 would update Nevada's current abstinence-only education with a more comprehensive sex education program in public schools.
After several Nevada news sites published accounts of Flores' emotional testimony, conservative websites like Life News got the message out to anti-abortion activists with headlines like: "Democratic Legislator: I Don’t Regret Killing My Baby in Abortion."
"Unlike Flores, most women regret their abortions and tell painful stories of how they are often unable to come to grips with taking the life of their child," Life News' Steven Ertelt wrote.
Flores was scheduled to explain her support for Assembly Bill 230 to reporter John Ralston on the Thursday edition of Ralston Reports, but canceled before the show aired.
Assemblywoman Lucy Flores, who testified at sex ed hearing re abortion as a teen, recipient of threatening messages. Cancels Ralston Thur.
— Dana Gentry (@DanaGentryLV) April 3, 2013
"Assemblywoman Lucy Flores, who testified at sex ed hearing re abortion as a teen, recipient of threatening messages," television producer Dana Gentry wrote on Twitter. "Cancels Ralston Thur."
On Thursday, feminist blogger and activist Emmily Bristol, who wrote about Flores' testimony, wondered if she had "indirect culpability in giving greater exposure to the kind of information that has been shown to incite anti-choice news outlets and organizations."
"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," Bristol wrote. "They seek to demonize human sexuality."
Flores released her own statement on Thursday, but did not specifically mention the threat: "This week, I shared an extremely personal story about a difficult decision I made as a teenager to have an abortion. I shared that story because I felt it was relevant to the importance of sex education in Nevada schools, and my belief that our children need to be armed with good information in order to make good choices. While I am heartened, and deeply moved, by the support I have received from far and wide since my testimony, I want to ensure that we don’t lose focus on the real issue at hand. I don’t want the weight of a serious issue like abortion rights to overwhelm the purpose of this bill, which is meant to ensure that other young people are empowered with information that I simply didn’t have as a young person."
"I maintain that educating our children is one of the most important things we can do as legislators, and that should include sex education. I look forward to working with my colleagues to pass AB230 (sex education bill). AB230 is an important piece of legislation that is sorely needed in our state. Nevada's young people need to have access to information in order to make informed choices, and hopefully avoid having to make difficult decisions as I had to."