I was fortunate to live in a home where I was raised by both parents. I wasn’t disciplined often, que mal hubiera sido eso. Bueno, tal vez, only a handful of times. But mom really preferred to give me la mirada, the evil eye, which almost twitched in formation as she squinted, or she would gesture her hand in a way that meant trouble. And I mean real trouble, like chanclas flying across the room and munuecas falling off the bed.
My mom knew I was a softie, too. And probably like your mom, mi mama wanted me to strike a perfect a balance between two extremes – queria que fuera fearless, borderline aggressive, yet loving and understanding, and compassionate. Latina moms, they’re quite the character. But I know what she meant. Queria que mis hermanas y yo tuvieramos a fearless approach toward life, a quench thirst to attain the things that we wanted to attain the most. I guess that’s why there is always something comforting, but frightening about hearing mom or abuelita say, donde hay gana, hay maña – “where there’s a will, there’s a way.” Te acuerdas de este dicho? Dichos are part of our language, our ideology as Latinas, and we’ve come to understand and appreciate their meaning! Our stories and the ones of our family are the kind of stories that are told through dichos – including our accomplishments, our defeats, and our good fights, tu sabes.
This year Latinas are fighting the good fight. We are fighting the good fight in the new health care reform law to include birth control in the list of preventive services that the Department of Health and Human Services and The Institute of Medicine (IOM) is putting together. And our allies? One another, si senor! Y cuando quieremos algo, I don’t know how we do it, but we get things done. que no? Mujeres, we have until August to tell our government that women deserve to access birth control at no cost. Actualmente, birth control is not included in the list of preventive services, which means that women would have to pay for birth control under the new health law. Mujeres, we have until August to tell our government that women deserve to access birth control at no cost. Women should not have to pay for health services that are justifiably theirs. Porque?
Research on birth control among Latinas have focused on family background, acculturation, cultural values, religious affiliation, among other things, but have restricted their attention to cost and choice. Presenty, half of women already delay or avoid preventive care due to its associated costs. Poverty and socioeconomic status shape women’s reproductive health outcomes, especially for Latinas, who often forego rent or utilities to scrape money for reproductive health services, including obtaining access to birth control. The truth is that reproductive health services for women of all ages continue to be affected by legislation and politics, and that is a shame.
I think that as women we’ve learned more about life through attaining something than hearing mami say “just get it done.” It’s hard to explain, but sometimes there’s no line between your need to and want to do things. And, we can’t just shrug our shoulders when people ask what’s next? What’s next is that we have to hold our government accountable. So tell your mother, sister, friend, or loved one to sign the petition that tells HHS to make prescription birth control available without co-pays, and enable Latinas and all women to choose the method that works best for them.
Tomorrow morning es otro dia, y lucharas mejor, we’ll fight to achieve our goals, as women, as sisters, como hermanas, neighbors, y coworkers, to protect the rights that protect us as women. Birth control es nuestra salud y nuestra prevención, our health and our prevention. Adelante!
By Rebecca Medina, Policy Analyst