Dear Assemblywoman Lucy Flores,
Earlier this year, when you spoke out in defense of comprehensive sex education, I applauded you for standing up for young people. When you told your story, about making the decision to end a pregnancy as a young woman, I was in awe of your courage. Your story, of your family struggling to make ends meet, and of the lack of education about sexual and reproductive health, is all too common for young Latinas all over this country—though it’s not always a story that is spoken of out loud.
Many young Latinas have little to no sexual and reproductive health education, and instead are bombarded by misinformation and myth, and then silenced by stigma and shame.
As a result, Latinas are more likely than their white counterparts to experience unintended pregnancy, and more likely to need access to safe, accessible, and affordable abortion services. Your experience speaks to the personal, critical decision that 1 in 3 women, including Latinas, will make in her lifetime: the decision to end a pregnancy. In telling the stories of your sisters, you also spoke to the need for support and resources for all women who experience pregnancy—whether or not they continue a pregnancy or become a parent.
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You also talked about the need for better access to birth control—because we know that many young Latinas do not have the tools to prevent unintended pregnancy, which include information, health coverage, and culturally and linguistically appropriate health services.
I want to thank you for sharing these important personal experiences and reflections. My heart went out to you as well, when some chose to attack and threaten you for simply speaking your truth, without apology or regret. I am so grateful for your continued support for women’s health and rights.
There is a reason you became quickly known on social media as “Fierce Flores.”
On behalf of the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health, and the women we work with in Nevada and across the country, I have a message for you:
Yo Te Apoyo. I support you.
I support you in making the decision you needed to make for yourself, your pregnancy, and your future.
I support you in your tireless leadership and dedicated service to improve the lives of women and girls in Nevada.
I support you in your courageous choice to speak to the truth of your experience, and to stand up to those who would deny us the basic human right to live with dignity and health.
And I support you in being a Latina leader and role model for millions of young women and men across the country who may be struggling to find their voices.
You have clearly found yours, and it is bien poderosa.
As a mother, I have felt the incredible responsibility and gravity of being pregnant, and of making the decision to become a parent. That experience only strengthened my resolve to defend the right of every other woman to do the same, on her own terms.
I also want you to know that contrary to the stereotype, the Latino community supports you. In fact, this past November, polling confirmed what we’ve known for years: A majority of Latino voters support a woman’s ability to make personal, private decisions about abortion without politicians interfering. Our own research has shown that 8-in-10 Latinos would support a loved one who needed an abortion.
It’s time for us Latinos to “come out of the closet” as supporters of women’s reproductive health. In Washington, and across the country, extremist politicians are pushing for legislation that would eliminate abortion access in many states, and make these critical services less accessible, and less affordable. Now is the time to show our values and vision for the future.
Earlier this year, the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health launched a new effort called “Yo Te Apoyo. I Support You.” to lift the voices of the Latino community and our allies in support of our sisters, our daughters, our primas, our tias, and any woman who is making a difficult decision about pregnancy and abortion.
Our communities honor the values of family, respect, and cariño; we take care of each other. That’s what Yo Te Apoyo is all about—respecting and supporting a woman’s ability to make her own decisions.
And so I say again to you, Assemblywoman Flores, and to anyone facing a difficult decision about pregnancy, I support you. Yo te apoyo.
Today, tomorrow, and until we have achieved salud, dignidad, y justicia for all.