Throughout this health care reform fight, women of color have been organizing and telling Congress what we need for health care reform. Our voices have never been more crucial.
On October 27, 2009, the Women of Color United for Health Reform, a coalition led by the Black Women’s Health Imperative, the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum (NAPAWF), and the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health (NLIRH), hosted a call-in to encourage Latin@s, and their family members, to let their Congressmen know that we demand a national health care system that works for us. A day later, Choice USA hosted a different call-in, encouraging individuals to contact their Congressmen and demand the Hatch Amendment be removed from the Senate Finance Committee’s version of healthcare reform. The amendment allots $50 million to fund abstinence-only programs in public schools.
On October 20, 2009, Women of Color United for Health Reform also hosted a conference call with senior White House officials about the needs of women of color in health reform. With over 400 participants, and various media hits, the conference call was successful in letting the current administration know that as women of color, we are tired of being ignored when it comes to our health care needs.
Civic participation is one thing Latin@s NEED to work on. Our voting records prove it; we are not as involved in the American political process as we should be. The Latino population is estimated to include 30,000,000 individuals. Out of these, approximately 19,500,000 are Latino citizens of voting age. Yet, only 11, 608,000 are registered to vote. Of these, only 9,745,000 voted in the 2008 Presidential elections. This amounts to less than 50% of the qualified Latino population voting. Amongst Latin@s, the percentage is even less – with only 5,000,000 registered Latinas who voted last year.
Needless to say, this makes it easier for the largely white and male Congress to ignore us when making important decisions that affect US directly – such as health reform and our right to safe and legal abortions. This was demonstrated in this weekend’s vote on health care reform legislation in the House of Representatives and the anti-choice amendment that was included.
It is citizen-led actions like these that force Congress to listen to our needs, which will ensure Latin@s get the health care we deserve. So go out and make sure you speak up; if not for yourself, for the 14,985,000 Latin@ daughters, mothers, and sisters that are being neglected at this very moment.
By Veronica Bernance, Communications and Development Intern