Nevada Lawmaker Receives Death Threats After Talking About Her Abortion

Nevada State Rep. Lucy Flores (D)

Nevada, which has one of the highest rates of unintended teen pregnancy in the nation, is considering updating its abstinence-only education policy to require more comprehensive sexual health instruction in public schools. This week, in a debate over that proposed legislation, Nevada Assemblywomen Lucy Flores (D) testified in favor of the bill, sharing her own personal story about the consequences of inadequate sex ed — all of her sisters became teenage mothers, and Flores herself decided to have an abortion when she became pregnant at 16.

Flores said that, since she was well-aware of the financial struggles that her sisters were experiencing as teen moms, she knew she wasn’t ready to have a baby. So she asked her father for money for an abortion. “I don’t regret it,” Flores told the Assembly Education Committee during her testimony, explaining that her decision was the right one for her. Now, she wants to make sure other young women in Nevada are better equipped to prevent pregnancy than she was. “We prevent this 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,’ ” Flores said.

But, as The Sin City Siren reports, Flores faced some serious repercussions for her honesty about her own experience with sex education, pregnancy, and abortion. The right-wing media jumped on her quoted testimony, with headlines proclaiming “Democratic Legislator: I Don’t Regret Killing My Baby in Abortion.” That coverage may have inspired some people to reach out to Flores, because local television producer tweeted on Thursday that the state lawmaker cancelled her appearance on a political news show after receiving death threats from people who had heard about her abortion story:

The backlash that Flores received for speaking openly about her abortion is just one example of the shame and stigmatization leveled against women who have abortions. The Sin City Siren points out that a similar situation unfolded in 2011 when Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA) spoke on the House floor about her own abortion. Even though one in three U.S. women has had an abortion by the time she is 45 years old, pervasive stigma surrounding the topic prevents the vast majority of those women from feeling safe enough to talk about it.

That’s why some women’s health advocates insist that more people need to follow in Flores’ footsteps and speak up about their own abortion stories — including women of all walks of life, as well as the men whose partners have chosen an abortion. The LGBT community has used a “coming out” model to share important parts of their identities with people who are close to them, which has helped shift the national conversation about LGBT rights, and public figures like Flores could help spark a similar movement to raise awareness about reproductive rights issues.

Flores’ supporters are rallying around her on social media platforms, tweeting messages of solidarity with the #FierceFlores hashtag.