By Megan Donahue, DC Policy Intern
When I was a little girl, I remember waking up to the rhythms of salsa and merengue. Whenever there was an opportunity, mami would run to the radio and play music. She would invite my tias over, and that would lead to dance lessons for me and my sisters! Dancing came naturally to my sisters, they were all gifted by birth. I still say that dancing was almost effortless for them. I, on the other hand, had trouble honing down my moves. Mami would see me get frustrated and would tell me to just keep practicing, that with practice I would become an expert. Like the saying goes, “La repetición es la madre de la retención” which means repetition breeds retention. We know that repetition works in a funny way, in that we tend to react to anything new with some apprehension and discomfort, but with repeated exposure we become familiar with things. Over time, what was once new and difficult will become familiar and less threatening.
Similarly, education about birth control in the Latino community is something that can become standard. 50% of women age 18-34, including Latinas, say that there has been a time when cost of prescription birth control interfered with their ability to use it consistently. This can lead to unintended pregnancies. Birth control in the Latino community may often be viewed as taboo, though studies show that Latinas do in fact support birth control. With more education, Latinas, and all women, will continue to view birth control as an essential part of women’s reproductive health.
Knowledge is power, but how good is our knowledge if we do not exercise it? Knowing is simply not enough! We need to exercise it and talk to our families about what we know relating to birth control. Currently, prescription birth control is not included as preventive care under the health law that passed last year. Poverty and socioeconomic status have an alarming effect on women’s reproductive health, especially for Latinas. For example, roughly 19% of Latinos live below the poverty line, which creates barriers to obtain birth control.
That is why the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health launched a campaign entitled, Birth Control: Nuestra Salud, Nuestra Prevención to put Latina women’s voices at the forefront of this issue! All women should have access to prescription birth control methods at no cost. Take action with us! Take this opportunity to educate others and help us reach our goal of guaranteeing that Latinas and all women living in the U.S. have access to birth control at absolutely no cost and reducing unintended pregnancies.
Sign the Birth Control: Nuestra Salud, Nuestra Prevención petition and let us hold our government accountable to make sure that birth control is accessible and affordable for Latinas and all women. Spread the word and inform your madres, comadres, tias, amigas, etc. Be an engine of change and work with us to make a difference in our communities!
Megan Donahue, DC Policy Intern, is supported by the Civil Liberties and Public Policy program