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Archive for the ‘Abortion’ Category

In a statement released today, the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health strongly denounced the deeply offensive and racist billboard campaign by an anti-choice organization targeting African American women. This organization posted a three-story high billboard in New York City this week claiming that “the most dangerous place for an African American is in the womb” in conjunction with a national campaign during Black History Month.

“These offensive billboards are nothing more than political ploys designed to stigmatize African American women and communities of color and restrict access to reproductive health care”, said Silvia Henriquez, executive director of the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health. “The organizations promoting these ads are focused on sensationalizing abortion and cutting even more women off from the reproductive health care they seek.”

Studies show that African American women and Latinas are more likely to be uninsured or underinsured and often lack basic access to birth control and comprehensive sex education due to fundamental structural inequities in society.

“We should be doing all we can to support women making the best personal reproductive health care decisions for themselves and their families”, added Henriquez. “As the only national Latina reproductive health and justice organization, we stand with other women of color to speak out in opposition to these condescending ad campaigns.”

For more information about NLIRH, visit: http://www.latinainstitute.org

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The fight has just begun for pro-choice advocates all over the nation. The House of Representatives has introduced two new bills that are a direct attack on women’s reproductive rights. Debate on these bills has already begun, it is up to us to make sure our opposition is known. The No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act (HR 3) and Protect Life Act (HR 358), were separately introduced by GOP leaders. Together, they paint a grim image of the anti-abortion agenda in the new House. Both of these bills will drastically impede affordable access to abortion leaving low-income Latino communities at a serious disadvantage.

Currently, the Hyde Amendment prevents the use of federal funding to directly provide for abortion services. HR 3 would take federal policy one step further by preventing indirect funds to abortion services going as far as to discourage private insurance companies from paying for services.

It would deny tax credits to companies that offer health plans that cover abortion and it would block anybody with insurance that covers abortions from receiving federal subsidies, even if the abortion portion is paid separately with personal funds.
This would make abortion only accessible to the extremely wealthy, leaving low-income communities, which are predominately of color, without recourse or access to abortion. It would also add an additional tax burden on small businesses and individuals.

Prohibit a federal agency or program[…] that received federal financial assistance under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act from requiring any health plan created or regulated under PPACA to discriminate against any institutional or individual health care entity based on the entity’s refusal to undergo training in theperformance of induced abortions, require or provide such training or refer for such training.

This bill is directly in conflict with Emergency Medical Treatment & Labor Act (EMTALA). Under EMTALA (1986) an emergency medical facility has to provide services to a patient regardless of their ability to pay. If they cannot stabilize the patient they are obligated to refer the patient to an institution that can. It places a woman’s life in danger and allows for undue subjectivity of health care providers.

These new anti-abortion bills go too far, and make obvious their goal of eliminating access to abortion all together. NLIRH urges you and your friends and family to take action and make your opposition to these draconian abortion bills known!

By Myra Guevara, Research Intern

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Today marks the 38th anniversary of the historic Supreme Court decision: Jane Roe et al. vs. Henry Wade, District Attorney of Dallas County. For Latinas who fought for reproductive justice, this court case was a relief and dramatically changed the landscape for reproductive rights.

Roe vs. Wade gave women access to a safe and legal abortion. By making abortion legal, the federal government made it possible to access safe abortions through licensed practitioners. The mortality rate of women seeking to terminate unwanted and unintended pregnancies has decreased significantly, but the political climate has become increasingly more tense. Instead of access improving, it has instead gotten more and more difficult for women to seek services.

Subsequent court cases after Roe v Wade gave states the right to restrict abortion access in certain capacities. States have taken advantage of this ability to restrict access to abortion. More than half of states created laws and statutes that introduced waiting periods, age restrictions, mandatory ultrasounds, spousal approval, and partial-abortion bans.

In 1992, Planned Parenthood vs. Casey gave states power to restrict abortions in the first trimester as long as it did not place ‘undue burden’ on the woman seeking abortions. What constitutes an “undue burden” is of course quite debatable, and has been the source of much controversy since that decision.

On the federal level, only three years after Roe, the Hyde Amendment passed and prohibited the use of federal funds for abortions. This significantly reduced access to abortion for low-income women, because their health insurance (provided through the government) would not cover the procedue. Now, under the 112th Congress a new bill has been proposed, HR-3,which would effectively make the Hyde Amendment permanent and add even more restrictions.

Justice Blackmun said it best when he drafted the opinion of the court back in 1973: “One’s philosophy, one’s experience, one’s exposure to the raw edges of human existence, one’s religious training, one’s attitude toward life and family and their values, and the moral standards one establishes and seeks to observe, are likely to influence and to color one’s thinking and conclusions about abortion.”   Justice Blackmun also acknowledged that “population growth, pollution, poverty and racial overtones tend to complicate and not simplify the issue.” 38 years later, the abortion debate continues to divide the nation in increasing levels of extremism.

As we all sit and contemplate the decisions of the higher court in Roe vs. Wade nearly 40 years ago we should be thankful that a woman’s right to choose was defended. But the war is not won and the battle is far from over. As we continue pushing for our future we must see that there are still barriers that keep certain low-income women, women of color, and other women with few options.

By Myra Guevara, Research Intern

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By Myra Guevara, Research Intern

Louisiana recently implemented House Bill 1370, which gave the Health Secretary greater power in revoking licenses for abortion clinics and providers. The law was further amended with Act 490, which allows abortion clinics to be treated differently than other medical facilities. The amendment:

“…sponsored by State Representative Fred Mills, allows for the immediate suspension of an abortion facility’s license if the Department of Health and Hospitals [DHH], secretary determines that the violation or violations pose an immediate threat to the health, welfare, or safety of a client or patient.”

Prior to Act 490 an abortion clinic was allowed to continue practicing pending an investigation of a possible violation, just like any other medical facility.

Five out of the seven abortion clinics in LA have filed a joint lawsuit, along with one physician, against Bruce Greenstein, the secretary of Louisiana DHH. The plaintiffs’ case: the violation of the equal protection clause under the 14th amendment and violation of due process. The remaining two abortion clinics are currently suspended and pursuing appeals.

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A street full of storefronts. On the second floor there is a large advertisement that says "Unplanned Pregnancy?" and a phone number.

Photo Credit: New York Times

 

On Tuesday, October 12, the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health announced its support for a piece of legislation in New York City that would require crisis pregnancy centers, or limited-service pregnancy centers, to disclose on all signage and advertising that they do not provide contraception or abortion services, or referrals to either.  The legislation would also require the centers to disclose if they do not have a licensed medical provider on site, and would hold them to the same confidentiality standards as licensed medical centers.

Crisis pregnancy centers are often innocuously labeled: “Pregnant?  Need Help?”  What many of these signs do not say is that these centers have an explicit anti-choice agenda, and often spread misinformation about abortion, such as the outdated and clinically-disproved claim that abortion increases risk of breast cancer.  The bill follows an investigation by NARAL Pro-Choice New York, who released a report documenting the tactics of these centers.

NLIRH’s own Senior Policy Analyst, Verónica Bayetti Flores, was interviewed in Spanish by Telemundo regarding this story. Read the story here, or watch here.

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The folks over at Latinovations invited me, Senior Policy Analyst here at NLIRH, to write a guest blog for them.  The blog, where I wrote about the experiences with health care immigrant Latin@s have in detention, was posted at La Plaza today:

As a reproductive health organization, sometimes people are surprised to learn that the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health does immigrants’ rights work.  The truth is that immigration and reproductive justice are inextricably tied, and the health and struggles of immigrant detainees is an area that is particularly ripe for action.

To read more about health care and the experiences of pregnant women and transgender persons in immigration detention, make sure to check out the rest of the piece here.

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Women holding sign "No mas mujeres muertas por abortion  clandestinos!"By Stephanie Rodriguez, Policy Intern

What happens when you are scared to go to the hospital?

This is the reality for thousands of women in Mexico where abortion is still outlawed in most states. Research from around the world has shown us that in places where abortion is illegal, it still happens, yet women are put at risk by underground procedures and the fear of persecution. This is the exact situation in Mexico.

A recent article in the New York Times highlighted this issue, discussing eight women who were jailed on homicide charges from supposed clandestine abortions. The process is shady at best, when evidence is difficult to find. Yolanda Martinez, one of the woman who was freed from jail after serving 7 years of her 25 year sentence stated; “They accuse you of crimes that you never committed.”

Women are afraid to go to hospitals whenever they are confronted with complications throughout their pregnancy because of these laws. It can be difficult to distinguish between miscarriage and complications from induced abortions, creating a culture of fear for women. From Guttmacher Institute:

Abortions in Mexico take place under unsafe conditions, resulting in serious health consequences for women. Seventeen percent of the Mexican women who obtained abortions in 2006 were treated in public hospitals for complications.

To make a bad situation worse, laws are being put in place to prevent even the idea of legalizing abortions. This is in response to the recent decision by Mexico City to legalize early abortions there.

Women’s safety should be our first priority–not driving them underground to unsafe procedures. We are not in a position where we can have women think twice before going to a hospital. We are not in a position to see more women die because they had no other option.

By Stephanie Rodriguez, Policy Intern

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By Nicole Catá, Policy Intern

Latina Week of Action for RJ logoWhat if the worldwide controversy over abortion could be solved with a small, $1 pill?  That is the question Nicholas Kristof asks in his column, which describes a pill that induces abortions.  He notes two potential benefits of the bill, the first being its easy access for women who may not be able to pay for abortion procedures, even risky ones:

Five-sixths of abortions take place in developing countries, where poor sterilization and training often make the procedure dangerous. Up to 70,000 women die a year from complications of abortions, according to the World Health Organization.

The safe and inexpensive pill could revolutionize women’s health in developing countries and prevent thousands of death at the hands of draconian anti-choice laws due to the second benefit Kristof notes:  misoprostol, a medication initially created to prevent stomach ulcers, is quite difficult for governments to restrict.

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By Rita Martinez, Development and Communications Intern

Doctor in white coat holding stethoscopeMany in the reproductive rights movement are acutely aware of the divide that exists between abortion providers and mainstream medicine. While the government recognizes a woman’s right to a safe and legal abortion, our policies and medical realities don’t show it very well. Not only does the country place a huge barrier to low-income access through the Hyde Amendment, which bans the use of public funds for abortions, we also isolate abortion providers, forcing women to seek out stand-alone clinics in order to receive the care they need.

Following the passing of Roe vs Wade, which affirmed a woman’s right to choose, it was predicted that if only half the country’s obstetricians provided abortion care services, clinics would be unnecessary.

Emily Bazelon’s article in the NY Times Magazine best recounts the stifling environment that ensued:

After Roe, the shadow of the greedy, butchering “abortionist” continued to hover, and many doctors didn’t want to stand in it. As mainstream medicine backed away, feminist activists stepped in.

Initially a huge success for women’s rights, these stand-alone clinics soon became poised to further the divide between abortion providers and hospitals. In an attempt to secure abortion providers within mainstream medicine, they had now provided conservatives an opportunity to ultimately remove abortion care from the public’s view.

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