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Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

The National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health (NLIRH) offers our deepest condolences and solidarity to the families and victims of the assassination attempt on Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords (AZ-8).

Congresswoman Giffords and 19 others were shot Saturday outside a Tucson grocery store during her first event in district after being sworn into her third term. Six people are confirmed dead and Giffords is fighting for her life.  Amongst those confirmed dead is Federal Judge John Roll, Rep. Gifford’s Director of Community Outreach, Gabe Zimmerman and a nine-year-old child.

We echo Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik’s remarks when he blamed the violence on the toxic political culture fueled by partisan media.

“We have become the Mecca of prejudice and bigotry,” he said after describing the shooter as an unbalanced person who could be easily influenced by vitriol spewed by pundits.

Giffords won another term in a narrow victory that reflected a tough campaign against the 29-year-old Marine Veteran Jesse Kelly (R).  Congresswoman Giffords stood by women’s rights and also approached immigration in a nuanced fashion. Because her district borders Mexico she was concerned about the impact of drug smuggling violence and therefore requested additional border security from both the Bush and Obama Administrations.  However, she also called for increased work visas and was a vocal opponent of SB1070, a state law that requires law enforcement to conduct racial profiling.

As a social justice organization NLIRH condemns all senseless violence, especially against women and children, as a threat to our democracy and freedom.

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Despite a devastating loss on the DREAM (the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors) Act, National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health applauds the Senate’s 65-31 vote on Saturday to repeal Don’t Ask Don’t Tell (DADT).  DADT is the law that forces LGBT military members to hide their sexuality at the risk of losing their careers.

Latinas have been devastated under DADT because women and racial minorities are particularly vulnerable under the law. Although women make up only 14% of the Army, for example, women received 46% of the Army’s DADT discharges in FY 2009. And while 20% of Air Force personnel are women, almost half of its discharges under the policy last year were women. These trends are similarly disproportionate for racial minorities.

We join activists in celebrating this bittersweet victory while continuing to work toward the day when human rights and justice will be within reach for all who call the U.S. home.

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We’re happy to report that the The Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment (CAPTA) Reauthorization Act of 2010 passed both the House and Senate last week. It is critical in the fight against child abuse and neglect.  This Act reauthorizes CAPTA through FY2015 and enacts important revisions that, as the White House stated, will “strengthen child protective services and continue life-saving programs for victims of domestic violence.”  Senator Harkin, a co-sponsor and champion of the bill, stated that “incidents of child abuse are on the rise… and this disturbing trend must be reversed immediately.”

The bill directs the Secretary to award grants for two national resource centers, at least seven special issue resource centers, a National Resource Center on Domestic Violence, and specialized services for abused parents and their children.

Other highlights of CAPTA reauthorization include:

  • Reauthorization of the Family Violence Prevention and Services Act (which is the only federal funding source dedicated to domestic violence services and shelters), the Adoption Opportunities Act, and the Abandoned Infants Assistance Act;
  • Emphasis on the need to develop the use of research-based strategies;
  • Enhancement of the general child protective system;
  • Provision of services to children that have been exposed to domestic violence; and
  • Improved training on prevention of violence against children.

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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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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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On August 11th, 2010, NPR’s On Point published its interview with former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, where he was questioned about a bill he endorsed in 2005 that would have supplied undocumented immigrants who fulfilled certain criteria with state-sponsored scholarships.

Huckabee maintained his opinion and seemed to suggest that Congress should support the DREAM Act, which aims to provide young, undocumented immigrants who moved to the U.S. with their parents and have lived in the U.S. for the most of their lives with a means of legalization.  He reasoned that refusing intelligent, young undocumented immigrants access to higher education does more than misguidedly penalize children – it also negatively affects taxpayers and the entire nation:

HUCKABEE: When a kid comes to his country, and he’s four years old and he had no choice in it — his parents came illegally. He still, because he is in this state, it’s the state’s responsibility – in fact, it is the state’s legal mandate – to make sure that child is in school. So let’s say that kid goes to school. That kid is in our school from kindergarten through the 12th grade. He graduates as valedictorian because he’s a smart kid and he works his rear end off and he becomes the valedictorian of the school. The question is: Is he better off going to college and becoming a neurosurgeon or a banker or whatever he might become, and becoming a taxpayer, and in the process having to apply for and achieve citizenship, or should we make him pick tomatoes? I think it’s better if he goes to college and becomes a citizen.

For these reasons, Huckabee also insisted that he does not support repeal of the 14th Amendment, which confers citizenship on all children born on U.S. soil, regardless of their parents’ immigration status.  Furthermore, he affirmed that all children of “illegal immigrants” should have a path to citizenship.

Huckabee’s interview responses are noteworthy in their differences from many other Republicans’ views on immigration; Senator John McCain (R-AZ), for example, purports to oppose the DREAM Act for “humanitarian reasons.”   That the ultra-conservative Huckabee breaks from traditional Republican ideology to support young, undocumented immigrants could indicate a way to find common ground with anti-immigrant legislators.  Although he calls for strengthened border security and refers to the parents of potential DREAM Act beneficiaries as “illegal,” Huckabee recognizes that the Act could help those who aren’t at fault for their immigration status, links their success with the general wellbeing of the nation, and identifies the 14th Amendment debate as a ruse.  Perhaps this overlap between pro- and anti-immigrant viewpoints represents an opportunity to communicate with conservative legislators and advocate for progressive laws that would benefit our communities and the U.S. as a whole.

By Nicole Catá, Policy Intern

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