Roar will publish a first-person story about abortion, “My Abortion: A Daily Story,” every day for at least 365 days. Below is a story shared in 2013 by then-Assemblywoman Lucy Flores. Addressing her colleagues in the Nevada state legislature, Flores was speaking at a legislative hearing to voice her support for a sex education bill. She quickly got very personal about her own experience as a young person, which included seeking abortion.
“I am here representing my district, which has a very large Latino population. More than 70 percent of my district is Hispanic, and unfortunately, the Latino community is plagued with the highest rates of pregnancy out of any group, period. I also want to share with you my own personal experience in this area. I know you will hear comments about how this is strictly the purview of parents and of family relationships. Sometimes those parents or relationships are not there.
My mom left my family when I was nine years old. Everything I learned, I learned from the very little education given to me at school and through the relationships I had growing up. I learned about biology, but as a young woman, I had no idea what to expect of my body. I was able to get that knowledge at school. My dad was busy trying to keep us clothed and fed, and worked day and night to do that. I did not have family and did not have parents at home to guide me. Many of our children are in that same situation. Many of our children, even if they have two parents or parents who are knowledgeable about this, are not knowledgeable themselves. We continue with this cycle.
I have six other sisters—one full sister and five half-sisters—who all became pregnant in their teens. My role models were my sisters who are continuing that cycle. One of them was 14 years old when she got pregnant with twins. That is what I had to learn from.
Since I am sharing so much this session, I might as well keep going. I have never admitted this to anyone in my life. I actually am not a part of that family who has had children. I am the only one who has not had a child in my teenage years. That is because at 16, I got an abortion. That was a very difficult thing for me to do. In retrospect, if I could go back and be on birth control, or, better yet, learn that trying to fill my life, because there was nothing else there, with the attention of a man in a non-healthy relationship, I would prefer to have done that if someone would have talked to me. No one did. I had to tell my dad that I did not want to be like my sisters. I had just gotten off juvenile parole, and I was trying to do better. I knew that I could not do it if I had a baby just like everyone else in this family, so my dad gave me the money. A friend accompanied me, and I will never forget being there for that procedure. I do not regret it because I am here making a difference for many other young ladies and letting them know there are options and they can prevent having a situation like mine. How do we prevent it? We prevent it by educating. We prevent it by giving them the education and the resources they need so they do not have to go to their dads for money.
I wholeheartedly support this because this is an epidemic, and it is affecting so many of our young people. I am here today because I did not have the burden of raising children. It is not to say you cannot be successful if you do have children in your teenage years. You can, but it is that much more difficult, and so few young women and men become successful after going through that in their teenage years.
I wanted to convey to you, yes, parenting is absolutely important. We have to support that. We also have to think about so many of our children who do not have that support. So many of those children, just like me, are having those same exact experiences as we speak…”
Lucy Flores served two terms as Assemblywoman for District 28 in the Nevada House, the first Latina elected to the state’s legislature. She later ran for Nevada Lieutenant Governor and Congress. She is currently Vice President for Public Affairs at mitú.