Latinas face a unique and complex array of reproductive health and rights issues that are exacerbated by poverty, gender, racial and ethnic discrimination and xenophobia. We believe that in order to substantially improve the reproductive health of Latinas and protect their rights to exercise reproductive freedom we must strive to affirm human dignity and the right to self-determination. To that end, we are happy to report that yesterday’s November 8th elections moved in a positive direction in addressing some of the key areas of concern for Latinas health and wellness.
In Mississippi voters defeated a personhood ballot initiativewith a conclusive 55 percent of the vote.The initiative would have banned common forms of birth control, criminalized abortion even in the case of rape, incest, or life endangerment of the mother, and outlawed common IVF procedures. Colorado rejected similar measures in 2008 and 2010. Voters that hold a range of personal views about reproductive health issues including abortion agreed that this was an extreme intrusion on medical privacy.
Mississippi already places a great burden on families to obtain one of the most common medical procedures for women. The state has tough abortion laws, with only one clinic available in the entire state to perform the procedure. The state also requires parental or judicial consent for any minor to get an abortion, mandatory in-person counseling and a 24-hour wait before any woman can terminate a pregnancy. Now, hopefully, Mississippi can work on other issues, such as the fact that they have some of the highest rates of unintended pregnancy and STIs including HIV/AIDS in the country.
While a handful of states are likely to face similar “personhood” ballot measures in the next election, we are optimistic that voters will continue to reject these intrusions on reproductive health, justice, and liberty.
In a victory for worker’s rights, 62% of voters rejected changes to collective bargaining rights in Ohio. The defeated measure attempted to cut back collective bargaining rights from union workers, and if passed, would have affected hundreds of public employees.
Another result from yesterday’s elections was the unseating of Russell Pearce, Arizona’s anti-immigrant legislation champion. His constituents rejected his campaign of fear and its impact on the state’s economy and reputation. Pearce’s recall demonstrates the public discontent with severe anti-immigrant measures, and that discontent will drive people to the polls. The new representative for his district is Jerry Lewis, an Assistant Superintendent of an Arizona charter school chain. While similar to Pearce in some ways, Lewis differed on immigration policy. As the only national organization working to secure reproductive health and justice for Latinas, we support actions that put a stop to drivers of cruel and inhumane policies against immigrant women.
Enforcement policies such as Arizona’s SB1070 have a silencing effect on immigrant women who no longer trust local law enforcement for help when faced with a domestic violence or sexual assault situation. In addition once police strip freedom from an immigrant woman, they can do so indefinitely, with no guaranteed access to a lawyer, no way to get out on bail, and no way to prove her innocence in front of a judge and jury. We believe that strong families are the foundation of successful communities and our families come in all types and sizes. Ensuring that immigrant women can raise their families without fear they will be torn apart by dragnet enforcement policies is critical to the fabric of our nation, its security and its prosperity.