Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

The fight for health care reform has reached its last stage, and the bills passed by the House and the Senate are currently being merged by Democratic leadership.  It has been long and it has been tough, and now we are advocating for the best possible result even though closed-door meetings have replaced an open conference process.   Our efforts have not led us where we would have liked given the momentous opportunity that health care reform presented.  Certainly, the final bill will contain a number of key provisions that will improve the way people access health care by ending pre-existing conditions exclusions, expanding Medicaid, and ending gender-rating (the practice of charging women more than men for similar policies).  Although we knew from the beginning that this legislation would not create a system of truly universal health care, we dedicated our best efforts into improving reform options for Latinas and their families.

Activists and staff from the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health (NLIRH) have been engaging legislators in DC and in their home districts on a weekly basis with visits, letters and phone calls. We are reminding them that Latinas do want and need abortion coverage, and that immigrant families must be able to access the health care system.

We will not stand silent as this battle is fought on the bodies of women and immigrants. For the past several years NLIRH has been fighting to repeal the Hyde amendment, which prohibits federal funding for abortion coverage, except in the case of rape, incest or life endangerment of a woman. Though the amendment offered by Rep. Lois Capps (D-CA) in the House bill represented a compromise that maintained the status quo established by the Hyde Amendment, it was a compromise we were willing to make so that the health care reform process would not come to a halt.  For some in Congress, the painful concession in Capps was not enough. The amendment offered by Rep. Bart Stupak (D-MI) in the House and the “compromise” by Senator Ben Nelson (D-NE) in the Senate stopped just short of banning abortion coverage in private insurance policies.  If either Stupak or Nelson’s provisions are included in the final bill, health care reform will enact some of the most egregious and detrimental setbacks to abortion rights since the seventies.  Latinas, immigrants, and women of color are deeply affected by any language restricting abortion access.  Because women of color and immigrants are disproportionately poor, they are less likely to be able to pay for reproductive care out-of-pocket, which puts them at risk for seeking alternative, unsafe abortion methods.

NLIRH will continue to advocate for real and meaningful health care reform.  We are still working tirelessly by organizing our base and reaching out to key legislators to let them know that women and immigrants must not be left out. Thank you for your continued support – we cannot do this without you.  La lucha sigue!

In solidarity,
The NLIRH team

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The National Coalition for Immigrant Women’s Rights just released a statement applauding the removal of the HIV travel ban:

The ban, which was in place since 1987, was anachronistic and reflected a fundamental misunderstanding about HIV/AIDS and how it is spread. The public health community has long recognized that it is inappropriate to classify HIV as a “communicable disease of public health significance,” as that term is understood to apply to diseases that can be transmitted by casual contact.

This is an important victory – a step closer to reproductive justice for all.

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To those of you that have been paying attention to NLIRH’s work during the long process to craft and pass health care reform legislation, it might seem as though what was a flurry of action at the end of the year has died down.  Behind the scenes, however, we are hard at work.  Though many provisions in both the Senate and the House version of the health care reform legislation are deeply flawed, NLIRH is not ready to give up.  We are currently developing strategies and materials for the last leg of this struggle, and we are continuing our work both with activists on the ground and our colleagues in the movement to ensure that the merged bill comes out free of provisions that are hurtful to women of color, low-income people, and immigrants.

The Senate and House versions of the bill will be merged soon, but right now it is not clear exactly how that will happen.  Though legislation typically enters a conference committee made up of members of both the House and Senate to resolve differences and emerge with a final bill, there is speculation that health care reform will undergo an alternative process in order to avoid Republican stalling tactics.

Stay tuned – we will need all your help soon!

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Check out this short video clip of NLIRH Executive Director Silvia Henriquez speaking at the Stop Stupak Rally in Washington, DC on December 2nd!

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It was 5:53 in the morning. The rain was pouring down, and the No. 6 train uptown was now ten minutes late. None of that mattered though, I was excited. I knew that in just a few hours I would be in a different city, completely, being an advocate for what I believe in. I was going to participate in a rally that would voice concerns over the Stupak-Pitts Amendment to Health Care. While representing NLIRH as an intern, and with other advocacy groups like Planned Parenthood, the Feminist Majority Foundation, NARAL, Advocates for Youth, NOW, the Hispanic Federation, Voces Latinas, the Pro-Choice Education Project, and countless others, I was going to stand up for women’s and reproductive rights.

The Stupak Amendment does not affect only women and people of color. As a man, I understand that my voice against human rights violations is just as important. My intersections of identity man, Latino, gay, Catholic — are all important in fighting for equality. Some people think that just because you’re a man, you can’t be a feminist. The truth is, I am a man AND I am a feminist. I have no place in taking away the human rights of a woman. That said, I will continue to fight these rights. The bus we took to D.C. We were all united for women’s rights, regardless of gender, race or age. (more…)

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I wouldn’t exactly call myself a morning person – but I was awake and ready to go, yesterday at 6:30 in the morning with a bus full of activists and a handful of coffee and snacks. We were on our way to Washington DC to lobby against the harmful and dangerous language in the Stupak Amendment to the House Health Care Bill. The bus was packed and the energy was good. On the bus – we did a quick Lobbying 101. We talked about our messaging; no one should be left behind in health care reform, not women, not immigrants, not Latinas, and not anyone else. We got to the capital ready to tell our senators and representatives that Stupak outrageously extends Hyde and it will hurt women, families and communities. (more…)

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So you’ve heard the words all over the news.  Public option.  Stupak.  Conference.  Blue Dogs.  Filibuster.  Premiums.  Private market.  Unless you geek out on hours of CSPAN and NPR, talking health care reform can be like speaking in code.

Want to get a breakdown of what it all really means?  Are you wondering how everything going down in DC will affect you?

Hop on a call TODAY, November 24th, at 1PM EST with young people from across the country, hosted by Choice USA and the Generational Alliance.  Hear  NLIRH Deputy Director Jessica Gonzalez-Rojas, along with the National Coalition for LGBT Health, Choice USA and the NAACP talk about health care reform.  Learn what the Bills say, what the voting process looks like, where reform is, and what’s at stake in it for you, your family and your community.  The call is for anyone and everyone who wants to up their health care IQ.  RSVP here before the call fills up! Once you’re on the list, you’ll receive the phone number to call into.

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In the past month, two Mexican states have passed laws to further criminalize abortion. Queretero and Oaxaca became the 15th and 16th Mexican states out of 31 to define life as beginning at fertilization. These laws result in the criminalization of abortions for all women with the exception of rape victims but not victims of incest.

What these legislators are forgetting is that the prohibition of abortion will only cause many of these women to seek to terminate their unwanted pregnancies under dangerous and risky circumstances. According to the Secretary of Public Health, in six of the 16 states that have criminalized abortion, maternal mortality is five times the national average.

According to John Ross in his article War on Mexican Women:

The anti-abortion push is being orchestrated by the ruling right-wing PAN party in connivance with the Princes of Catholic Hierarchy…their goal is to repeal Mexico City’s free abortion-on-demand law…which has provided 30,000 women the right to choice over the past two years, according to the Mexico City Women’s Initiative.

In addition, the Secretary of Education (run by the PAN party), confiscated first year high school biology text books in the city of Guanajuato, on the charge that they included education on birth control methods. According to John Ross,

The Guanajuato Education Secretariast (SEG) distributed 114,00 of their own biology textbooks that demonized masturbation and homosexuality, skipped any mention of AIDS prevention and advocated abstinence as the only method of avoiding unwanted pregnancies.

Last month the Mexican Senate also voted in Arturo Chavez Chavez as their new attorney general. Chavez Chavez’s previous work was as chief prosecutor in the state of Chihuahua, home to Cuidad Juarez, the location of hundreds of brutal murders of young women throughout the 90s and until today.  His conduct in regard to those murders has been seriously questioned, including assertions that he actually tried to place blame on the victims themselves.

With the same abortion criminalization bills pending in Michoacan, Sinaloa, Veracruz, and Mexico State, and the current tide of anti-choice and anti-women policies, it’s a difficult road ahead for women in Mexico.

We’ve seen time and time again internationally that laws which criminalize abortion don’t serve to lower overall rates of abortion, they just increase rates of maternal mortality. We’ve got to work against these policies that put the health and livelihood of women at risk.

By Krystal Chan, Communications and Development Intern

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August 26, 2009

Samantha E. Harper: 212.422.2553 | Samantha@latinainstitute.org

National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health Mourns the Loss of Senator Kennedy
Calls on Congress to honor Sen. Kennedy’s lifelong mission to reform health care.

Washington D.C. — National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health (NLIRH) joins our nation and the world in mourning the loss of Senator Edward Moore Kennedy. Our condolences go out to his family and friends during this difficult time.

Throughout his life, Sen. Kennedy was a friend and advocate to those in need. He championed access to affordable, quality health care; supported women, their families, and their communities; and fought for civil rights and immigration reform.

As we pay tribute to Women’s Equality Day, we are guided by the words of Sen. Kennedy, “the work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives and the dream shall never die.”

Senator Kennedy’s leadership, vision, and passion will never be forgotten.

NLIRH calls on Congress to honor Sen. Kennedy’s lifelong mission to reform health care for all Americans.


 Established in 1994, the NLIRH is the only national Latina health and reproductive justice organization representing the growing Latina population. NLIRH works to ensure the fundamental human right to reproductive health for Latinas, their families and their communities, focusing on three critical areas: increasing access to abortion, eliminating reproductive health disparities, and advancing the rights of immigrant women. For more information on NLIRH, visit www.latinainstitute.org.

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Sotomayor_Color Image

From Silvia Henriquez, Executive Director:

The Senate confirmation of Judge Sonia Sotomayor heralds a new era of diversity in our courts. Judge Sotomayor offers inspiration for Latinas as her confirmation has challenged stereotypes and demonstrated the growing political power of the Latino community.

Judge Sotomayor will play a pivotal role in promoting the dignity and well being of our families and our communities. Her confirmation signals hope for not only expanded legal access to abortion but also for expanded social access to the full range of reproductive health care, such as health care funding for poor women. Judge Sotomayor’s body of work and judicial philosophy reveals a sophisticated analysis of social issues and the important role of the court in safeguarding human dignities.

On the week that Judge Sotomayor begins her new role as Supreme Court Justice, NLIRH will host a national ‘Quinceañera’ gala to celebrate the coming-of-age of a new era of Latina empowerment. NLIRH was founded fifteen years after the first Latina was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, and fifteen years later we are ready to toast the first Latina to sit on the nation’s highest court. On October 7, 2009, NLIRH advocates and supporters will come together in Washington, D.C. to draw on the experiences of our roots, to raise our voices for reproductive justice, and to celebrate our power to create social change for Latinas in the years ahead.

For more information, please visit www.latinainstitute.org.

To schedule an interview with Silvia Henriquez, please contact Andrea Hagelgans at ahagelgans@caminopr.com or at 646-575-2956.

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