Rep. Jackie Speier, D-Calif., abandoned her prepared remarks and revealed that, years ago, she had an abortion because of a medical complication with her pregnancy. Watch:
So who is Speier? Here's what Surge Desk has learned.
1. Jonestown survivor
Perhaps the most notable highlight of Speier's biography is that she was there when disaster occurred at Jonestown, the cult community led by the Rev. Jim Jones. Speier, then 28, was serving as a legal aide to Rep. Leo Ryan, D-Calif., in 1978 when Ryan became concerned about reports that U.S. citizens were being held in Jonestown, in the South American country of Guyana, against their will and in poor conditions. Speier accompanied Ryan and a press contingent to Jonestown on a fact-finding trip to investigate the accusations. When the group tried to leave after a two-day visit, things began to fall apart: Someone attempted to stab Ryan, and Jones became angry that defectors wanted to leave. When the group was at a nearby airstrip waiting to depart, loyalists opened fire. Ryan and four others died, and 11 were injured, including Speier, who was shot five times. Shortly afterward, the mass suicide/murder began, killing more than 900 people.
Speier ran to fill Ryan's congressional seat but lost the election.
2. Struggles to be a mother
In 1988, when Speier was serving as a member of the California State Assembly, she gave birth to a son, Jackson Kent, making her the first California legislator to have a baby while in office. Her next two pregnancies ended in miscarriages. (There's no indication now as to whether she counted her abortion as one of these reported miscarriages.) She and her husband then adopted a baby whom she introduced to her State Assembly colleagues, but the birth mother then elected to keep her child. Later, in 1994, Speier was pregnant with her daughter, Stephanie, when her husband died, leaving her a widow with a young son and a newborn.
3. A long pro-abortion-rights record
Even before her announcement Thursday night, Speier had received a 100 rating, the highest possible, by NARAL Pro-Choice America and a zero by the National Right to Life center.
4. Once proposed lowering voting age
Speier was widely criticized when she made what she said was a symbolic proposal to lower the voting age to 14. She claimed that she was merely trying to bring attention to issues affecting teenagers.
5. A Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis fan
Speier's birth name was Karen, but she took Jacqueline as her confirmation name in honor of the famous first lady.
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