Because the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health is kicking off the Latina Week of Action blog series with posts about gender and reproductive justice, I was hoping to highlight a piece by Lauren Rankin at Truthout called “Not Everyone Who Has an Abortion Is a Woman – How to Frame the Abortion Rights Issue.” The piece makes the case that the ongoing “War on Women” is not just a war on women, and that, as the Latina Institute has long recognized, the rights of trans men and gender-nonconforming people are also at stake in the struggle for reproductive justice. Rankin calls on activists and advocates tackling “women’s issues” to incorporate more gender-inclusive frameworks and language. I am grateful to Rankin, the New York Abortion Access Fund, the Latina Institute, and many others in paving the way for gender inclusivity in reproductive justice.
Guest Post by May Sifuentes, PPFA
Planned Parenthood’s Youth Team just concluded its Youth Organizing and Policy Conference in Washington, DC—a conference that was attended by close to 300 youth activists from around the nation and consisted of participation in a lobby day, strategic thinking and mapping, and building connections and a support system to make sure that our advocacy work for reproductive health and rights is moving forward. But for me, the conference was more than just a gathering of young leaders: it was a survey, a demonstration and vision of the resilience, the diversity, the passion, and immense action that is happening in spaces all over the United States—and is specifically being led by young people. Whether it’s raising public awareness about reproductive rights, or educating young people and their campuses and communities about sexual health, our youth work with and support their local Planned Parenthood organizations to mobilize advocates for reproductive freedom. In 2011, 76% of Planned Parenthood’s nearly 3 million patients were under 30 and 47% of patients were people of color. The issues affecting these communities then become our issues; we will work hard to make sure that everyone has access to affordable health care.
This is why the passage of the Affordable Care Act in 2010 was so important—it will allow us to reduce the gap felt by our siblings of color, youth, LGBTQ, and other underserved communities when it comes to access to culturally sensitive, respectful and affordable health care. For young adults, the benefits of the ACA are immense—the ACA allows youth up to age 26 to remain on their parents’ insurance plans. 3.1 million young adults have already gained insurance through this provision, and it is estimated that around 3 million more are eligible. What’s even better is that there is a larger increase in insurance and eligibility rates for youth of color—who have historically had lower insurance rates in the U.S.
And when it comes to preventive health services, the Affordable Care Act requires most health insurance plans to cover prevention services—as my abuelita always said, better safe than sorry. From Pap tests and HIV screenings, to birth control without co-pays, preventive services that are covered by insurance plans will help people of color, Latinas especially, live healthier lives overall. Latinas have high rates of cervical cancer, and Latinos represent 20% of new HIV infections in the U.S. The Affordable Care Act gives us a great opportunity to work with our communities to affect change, and make sure that folks who are eligible to be insured are.
While youth activists at Planned Parenthood know the benefits that the Affordable Care Act can have in their communities—and are actively engaged to bring that information to their localities—we also know that health has no borders and that everyone deserves to live healthy lives. We are committed to continue working with our coalition partners to advocate for health care for all.
While there is no doubt that the Affordable Care Act brings great benefits to our communities, we know that we carry immense responsibility in its success. It is up to us, as part of this movement, to make sure that our siblings, our neighbors, and our communities know how the ACA can benefit them. When the open enrollment period for health insurance plans starts this October 1, our youth activists will make sure that they once again, unapologetically and with energy and compassion, are as prepared as always to reach their communities and advocate for their rights with them as one force.
Elizabeth Estrada is a Mexican immigrant living in Miami, by way of Atlanta, GA. She started serving the Latino community as an immigrant and reproductive rights activist in Atlanta. Elizabeth later joined the Feminist Women’s Health Center’s team of promotoras through the Lifting Latina Voices Initiative, where she provided sexual and reproductive health education to Latinas in the metro Atlanta area. Elizabeth joined the Latina Institute’s Florida Latina Advocacy Network in July of 2013, where she will continue to serve the Latino community.
I am so excited and proud to be joining the Latina Institute team and what a better time than at the start of our Latina Week of Action for Reproductive Justice! I have been working for reproductive justice for the past 3 years in my native Atlanta. True to the southern states I see many similarities regarding abortion restrictions in both Atlanta and Florida. This is the reason I decided to join Latina Institute’s Field Organizing team in Miami.
Restrictions on women’s reproductive rights have been popping up everywhere in the U.S. Since 2011 over 120 abortion restrictive pieces of legislation were present in several different states across the US. It’s important that we fight to keep our reproductive freedom, but what about ACCESS? I think of the many women of color that are affected by a lack of access to make the choices they need. This is why Latina Week of Action is so important to me.
As a Mexican immigrant I am aware of the many barriers there are to access health care services in the US. There is fear of having to present any kind of legal documents when entering a community health clinic, the lack of knowing the language, and the basic need for transportation to get to the clinic or doctor. Now with the new immigration reform on the table, we must be forced to wait 15 years to access any kind of health services? Latin@s have been major contributors to the US, not only by our (under paid) labor, but by the many sacrifices we make to be a valuable part of the US. We see examples of this with immigrants working in the strawberry fields of GA, and the tomato fields of FL, all the while exposing ourselves to the many dangers that come along with working in these lines of work.
Latinas are an invaluable part of the fabric that makes the US thrive and it is not fair to ask that we wait 15 years to access health services. This is not a partisan matter; this can be a matter of life and death in some cases. When creating immigration reform, we must not primarily think about the economy, but of family unity, compassion, and care for the people that live here. We must not forget the importance of including ALL people in the reform, most notably our LGBTQ brothers and sisters. I’m happy to be a part of Latina Institute’s team in FL and be joined by many other wonderful organizations that are fighting for justice in immigration reform and across many other issues that intersect with reproductive justice.
We will fight until we achieve justice. Seguimos adelante!!
Guest Post by Erin Panichkul, Law Students for Reproductive Justice (LSRJ)
Cross-posted from LSRJ: http://reporepro.lsrj.org/2013/08/05/the-fight-for-salud-dignidad-y-justicia/
The 4th annual Latina Week of Action for Reproductive Justice has officially commenced! This week symbolizes empowerment, pride, and mobilization of the Latina population for justice and equality in reproductive health care.
“As the nation moves forward on immigration reform to create a path to citizenship for the nation’s 11 million undocumented immigrants, the health care needs of immigrant women and children have been left behind. This is unfair, unwise, and un-American, and we can’t let this happen.”
- The National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health
Affordable, accessible, and quality health care is a basic human right regardless of citizenship status. The S. 744 Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act of 2013 has recently passed the Senate and is said to the biggest move forward for immigration reform. Hooray! But what about access to basic and reproductive health care? What about immigrant families, women, and children? Under the new immigration bill, immigrant women and children could face a waiting period up to 15 years or longer to see a doctor. This is an absurd amount of time – can you imagine telling a patient that the next available appointment they qualified for was on August 5, 2028?
Despite this bad news, there is good news this week for reproductive health access – Plan B One Step, an emergency contraceptive, is now available over the counter without age or identification restrictions. What does this mean? You no longer have to wait until the pharmacy is open and show your ID to access emergency contraception (this is only for One-Step, generic brands still require ID and for those under 17 a prescription too). This is an important advancement in access, particularly for immigrant women since they are less likely to have government-issued identification.
Go check out if your local drug store is complying with the law and offering Plan B without restrictions! We did at the LSRJ national office and submitted our pictures to the #ECinourhands tumblr.
This week we join the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health and many other allies in celebrating the Latina Week of Action to build and demonstrate our power in support of reproductive justice, health, and dignity for all!
Erin Panichkul is a rising 2L at Thomas Jefferson School of Law, where she is an active member and prospective executive board member of the LSRJ chapter for the 2013-2014 academic year. She is also members of La Raza, OUTLAW, and the Public Interest Law Foundation. She is a young and vibrant Los Angeles native. She graduated from UCLA with a Bachelor’s of Arts degree in Women’s Studies. The intersectional analysis in feminist ideology and perspective on differences in identities sparked her interest in social justice. She decided to attend law school because she is not satisfied with the state of equality that exists today.
Post By Nicole Catá
Originally from Cortlandt, NY by way of Flushing, NY, Nicole Catá now studies at The George Washington University Law School and the Elliott School of International Affairs. During her time as an undergraduate student at Columbia University, she worked from January to August 2010 as a policy and advocacy intern at the Latina Institute. Nicole spent this summer as a legal intern at National Advocates for Pregnant Women and will work this fall as a student attorney for the International Human Rights Clinic at GW Law School. Nicole will serve as the president of GW Law School’s chapter of Law Students for Reproductive Justice during the 2013-14 school year.
Birth Justice as a Matter of Reproductive Justice
With news of Prince George’s birth dominating the Internet, it may be helpful to highlight the lived realities of birthing experiences in the United States for women of color. Given that the royal birth cost $15,000, whereas the average cost of birth in the United States is $30,000, you have to wonder whether we’re getting what we pay for. For poor, uninsured women of color in the United States, too often the answer is “no.”
Last year, Denene Millner published a piece called “Birthing While Black” that details the abysmal treatment she received at an upper Manhattan hospital while delivering her first daughter. Despite having paid for “upgrades” to secure the birth experience she had envisioned, Millner catalogues a litany of maltreatments she experienced the moment her baby was born. For example, she describes as follows:
Once in the private room, the nurses disappeared for nine hours! Seriously. Nine. I had no diapers. No idea how to breastfeed properly (and no bottle or milk to feed my baby if I chose to formula feed). No instructions on what to do to care for my post-birth body (was it okay to walk? Pee? Wash?). Nothing. I seriously thought I was being punished for asking (nicely) for what I’d paid for. When a nurse finally did show up, she came with a “gift bag” full of formula and coupons for… formula.
Millner’s piece highlights the injustices too often leveled against women of color on what should be the happiest days of their lives. The notion that she was treated so poorly after having paid for hospital upgrades speaks volumes about what poor, uninsured women of color face when giving birth in many hospitals around the country.
We know that everyone deserves access to high-quality health care, that birth justice is a matter of reproductive justice, and that health and dignity are human rights. Millner reminds us that everyone deserves to be treated like royalty during and after their birthing experiences.
Post by Valentina Forte-Hernandez
Texas legislatures are attempting to disguise their anti-abortion bill as a measure of protection for teenagers and children. They are acting as if restricting abortion, limiting contraceptive care and defunding sexual education will prevent teenagers from having sex. If teenagers do not know how to have safe sex, are unable to access contraception or abortion they will stop having sex, right? Wrong. Denying youth sex ed, contraception and abortion will only ensure that there will be more unsafe sex, more unplanned pregnancies and more women turning to dangerous abortion alternatives. Saying these restrictions are to protect young people is not only preposterous, it also ignores all the adult women who are also being harmed by a lack of access to reproductive care. The anti-abortion bill and the continuous cuts to reproductive health care services hurt all Texas women. Even if you do not need an abortion, even if you do not support abortion, if you are a woman in Texas you are being told that you are not entitled to make decisions about your own body.
It is a common misconception that reproductive health care exclusively refers to abortion and contraceptive services. Reproductive health care centers provide many services, not just ones that are directly related to sexual activity. Places like Planned Parenthood provide a variety of services like breast exams and other preventative treatments for breast cancer, ovarian cancer and a number of other illnesses that are not related to being sexually active. While many supporters of the anti-choice movement say that these services are available at other health centers, they are often unaffordable and inaccessible, especially to immigrant and undocumented women who are the people that will suffer the most if the bill becomes a law.
Texas women are hurting themselves with dangerous, illegal abortion alternatives now. It is not a scary hypothetical that will happen with new restrictions, it is happening every day and will only become more frequent if access to contraception and abortion is further limited. Women without the means to afford safe, clinical contraceptive services are risking their lives by crossing the border to buy black market drugs to induce abortion. While these drugs are known to be dangerous, women who are struggling to support a family would rather risk their own lives than have a child they cannot afford to take care of. These high-risk alternatives are often unsuccessful and many women experience uncontrollable bleeding and end up in the emergency room. With less access to contraceptive services there will be more unplanned pregnancies. More unplanned pregnancies and less access to abortion means more women will be turning to dangerous alternatives. Anti-choice Texans are hurting women in the name of “protecting youth.” They are punishing women for being sexually independant and turning a blind eye to the real needs of their citizens.
No matter how hard Texas legislators try to disguise their anti-women, anti-choice agenda I will not be fooled into believe their restrictions do a single thing to protect teenagers and children. If we want to protect teenagers, shouldn’t we be teaching them how to have safe sex to prevent the spread of disease and decrease the amount of unplanned, unwanted pregnancies? If we want to protect our children shouldn’t we keep our mother’s healthy and able to take care of the families they have? Shouldn’t we stop punishing women for not wanting to have a child they can’t afford to provide for? If you are claiming to be protecting youth, can you explain how this anti-choice legislation does a single thing to lower the rate of unemployment and homelessness amongst young people? What does it do to for the under resourced school system and millions children living in poverty? It does not do a single thing to improve the lives of young people in Texas, or to combat the real problems they are facing. This anti-abortion legislation gives nothing to Texas citizens and it takes away the reproductive rights of Texas women.
As a teenager girl, I say thanks but no thanks, Texas, for fighting (lying) in my name. I know you have convinced yourself that restricting my options will prevent me from having sex but it won’t, so it would be great if you would teach me how to make informed decisions about my body, not take away my ability to make these decisions at all. I would so greatly appreciate it if you considered a living, breathing woman of any age to be as valuable as a six week old fetus. If you really care about my safety it would be SUPER if you would start addressing my actual needs as an autonomous, teenage girl instead of serving your own, outdated ideology. If you really want to protect us young people, change what you are fighting for. Please stop using my safety as an excuse to restrict the reproductive rights of women of all ages. If you want to fight for my safety, if you want to protect women and teenagers listen to us. Stop trying to trick us into believing you know what’s best for us because you don’t.
“I’ll count to 10 and you hide!”
“That’s not fair, I WAN TO COUNT!”
“I’ll count and you can count next time?”
“1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10! Ready or not, here I come!”
The kids ran around the conference room looking for each other, oblivious to the fact that their mom’s and dad’s were in the other room getting information and building on their skills in order to raise healthier families and better futures.
However, it wasn’t all rainbow colored ponies. As I took a small break from the conference and made my way to the bathroom, I caught a conversation between two of the guards on the floor. Both were annoyed at the children. The screaming, laughing, jumping and overall awesomeness was too much for them. Complaints were exchanged about several things. Both agreed that the work environment was being disrupted because of the presence of children (I’ll mention that it was Saturday).
Were the kids really bothering anyone? No.
They were simply being kids. How do moms and dads get work done while raising a kid? Easy. They’re super heroes.
Maybe, if you opened up your mind and watched these kids laughing and playing you wouldn’t be so quick to complain. I had a headache from all the screaming but was able to function perfectly fine. Maybe, a notice should have been put up in the hallway that there was going to be kids on the floor that day. Maybe, if event spaces and public spaces were as welcoming to families as they are to food and drinks, organizers wouldn’t have to get creative and turn offices into day cares. Unsafe spaces shouldn’t have to transform into play areas only because most spaces are dominated by patriarchy. Bringing a child to a conference or event is not wrong. And feeding your child at an event or public space is not wrong. C’mon. In a country where women exhibit breasts on almost all ads, is breastfeeding really that disgusting?
Maybe, if resources were made available to young mom organizers and supporters, spaces where families are welcome would be accessible. If everyone just stopped for a moment and opened our minds and hearts to something new. To all the haters, keep in mind that young family gatherings are not about you but about the future of the kids in front of you.
Posted in Events, Families, Maternity, Motherhood | Tagged abortion, america, event, family, no stigma no shame, no teen shame, noteenshame, ny, repro health, reproductive health, rj, teen mom nyc, teen pregnancy, teenage families, young mothers | 1 Comment »