Archive for the ‘Breast cancer’ Category

YOU are powerful because you stand for women’s health.

We just heard that the Susan B. Komen Foundation will revise its decision to terminate service contracts with the affiliates of Planned Parenthood Federation of America. The Komen decision, as it stood, would have disproportionately impacted low-income women, who are disproportionately Latinas and women of color. Folks across the country raised their voices in support of Planned Parenthood, who provides essential health services to women and help decrease racial and economic health disparities.

Komen’s decision to revise demonstrates the power that you hold when you stand up and speak out in support of women’s health.

TARA SCHLEIFER is powerful because she shared her story.

Yesterday, Tara, a 42- year-old woman from Haymarket, Virginia, testified before the Virginia State Senate about her personal experience with a high-risk pregnancy.

She testified because the Virginia General Assembly had proposed legislation that would ban abortion procedures after 20 weeks of fetal gestation, allegedly on the basis that at this stage a fetus can feel pain. Bans on abortions prior to fetal viability are unconstitutional, yet the Virginia state government still considered proceeding with this ban based on this concept of “fetal pain.”

Tara’s testimony, however, highlighted the crucial reasons why politicians should not be allowed to interfere in this personal, medical decision.

At 17 weeks, Tara learned that her fetus, if brought to term, would suffer “a number of debilitating health conditions, including a heart defect that would have required multiple surgeries.” After weeks of research and discussion, she concluded that “having the baby would not only subject him to more suffering, but would leave the family financially and emotionally bankrupt and unfairly detract from the parenting of 3-year-old son Isaac.”

Laws like the 20-week abortion ban would completely erode Tara’s ability to make the best decision for her and her family. The ban would also inevitably endanger women’s health and lives, as complications in pregnancies are not uncommon.

Because of Tara’s testimony, the bill died in a vote. Republican Sen. Harry Blevins of Chesapeake, whose abstention made the bill unsuccessful and who had just previously voted for an ultrasound law, stated, “I don’t feel like I have the ability to make a decision as difficult as the one that young woman made.”

Laws that ban abortions after 20 weeks of gestation are particularly devastating to Latinas, who face myriad barriers to seeking the abortion care they need. Latinas are more likely to have difficulty with transportation, receiving child care, and financial resources, which inevitably cause delays in seeking abortion care. Latinas who live in rural areas or states with very few abortion care providers face substantial barriers to seeking timely care.

Hopefully, Tara’s story can inform other state and federal lawmakers. Currently, similar post-20-week abortion bans are being proposed in states and in Congress. In Florida, HB 839 is being sponsored by Rep. Daniel Davis (R), and in Congress, Trent Franks is proposing this ban for the District of Columbia.

We thank Tara for her courage and strength. Tara’s story reminds us that we are all powerful, because our lives, our stories and our voices matter.


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By Myra Guevara, Research Intern

As the month of October winds down and November opens up with contentious midterm elections, the talk and buzz on the web and in newspapers has been immigration reform, unemployment rates and the troubled economy. However, it is still October and that means it’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

According to the Susan G. Komen foundation:

An estimated 14,000 cases of breast cancer were diagnosed in U.S. Hispanic women in 2009, with more than 2,200 deaths, making breast cancer the leading cause of cancer death among Latina women in the U.S.

That is 2,200 mothers, daughters, life partners, aunts, cousins, and grandmothers. This fact has more to do with the late diagnosis of breast cancer in Latina women than the susceptibility of Latinas to breast cancer.

Researchers at George Washington University found that regardless of
insured status (private insurance company, government issued, or without
insurance) African American and Hispanic women experienced greater
delays in diagnosing breast cancer than Caucasian women. According to
the study:

The number of days from abnormal screening to definitive
diagnosis for those with private insurance was 15.9 days for white
women, 27.1 days for black women and 51.4 days for Hispanic women.

The numbers become more grim for women
without insurance.


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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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Woman getting a mammogram from a doctor or nurseThis week, Liza Fuentes (our Senior Research Associate) and I hosted our first spring semester brown bag, “Breast Cancer Screening Guidelines- Are They Really Throwing us Under the Bus Again?”

In November 2009 the United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) released new recommendations for the screening of breast cancer. The most alarming changes where that women should not begin mammography screening until the age of 50, and that they should be done every other year instead of annually. The USPSTF also recommended AGAINST self-breast exams.

So, what does this mean for Latinas? Well, seeing as how very little public education was done to communicate these new guidelines to the general public, chances are, these new guidelines have yet to reach our constituencies. We can also be sure that these guidelines did not take into account Latinas and our social economic status or our access to equitable health care.

Although it is true that two thirds of breast cancer in Hispanic women are found through self-exam, according to a study presented in the US News, Hispanic women also tend to wait at least one month to see a doctor about it; the main reason being little to no access to health care. Also, of these two-thirds of Latinas, how many of them were able to access affordable and equitable treatment? As most articles have stated, detection is not prevention.

The biggest problems with these guidelines were the way they were communicated and the timing of their release (during the tumultuous health care debate). In December, the USPSTF promised to update the language of the recommendations, but the damage had already been done.

The bottom line is this: continue doing what you think is best for you! Talk to your doctor and come up with a screening schedule that you and your provider are 100% comfortable with. Last, trust your instincts because you are the only one who knows your body, so be your own health advocate!

By Krystal Chan, Development and Communications Intern

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