Archive for the ‘Health Care’ Category

Our vegetables and fruits come with a side of rape and sexual abuse. That’s right. Rape.

Did you know that many of the farm workers who pick our fruits and vegetables are undocumented? It isn’t enough that they’re underpaid and exploited for their labor. Many are also raped and sexually assaulted while being threatened with being fired if they say something.

It is almost as if immigrant bodies have become public property. Property for many to use and misuse as they please. From not having access to health services, being deported and exploited to being raped.

The fear of deportation and of not being able to provide for their families forces immigrants to stay silent. But not anymore.

Frontline‘s latest documentary entitled, Rape in the Fields, follows a group of women who are raped and/or assaulted at work. The documentary also highlights the rape culture that dominates our society inside and outside of the fields. It is a heartbreaking film that will also make you angry. Angry at the injustice that happens right here in our fields and gets packaged with our food but no justice is served. Check out Rape in the Fields while it is still available online and spread the word.



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Hace más de una semana, tuvimos nuestro Día Nacional de Acción para la reforma de inmigración y salud. Nuestro grupo en Texas tubo un evento y esta es la experiencia de una de las líderes.

Red de Abogacía de Latinas de Texas
“Apoyando la eliminación de la prohibición de los 5 años y que las opciones de servicios de salud para los aspirantes a ciudadanos sean mejoradas”


2 de Mayo del 2013 – Día Nacional de Acción – Gracias al departamento de Relaciones Políticas de la Red de Abogacía de Latinas de Texas pudimos contactar a las dos Directoras Regionales del Sureste de Texas de los Senadores Ted Cruz y John Cornyn. Hablamos con Ana García (Southwest Texas Regional Director & Community Outreach Advisor – Senator John Cornyn) y Casandra Garcia (Southwest Texas Regional Director – Senator Ted Cruz).

Fue una maravillosa experiencia puesto que estas dos directoras estuvieron muy impactadas al recibir cerca de 300 cartas de peticiones en donde se les pide el apoyo para la eliminación de la prohibición de los 5 años. Tambien pedimos que las opciones de servicios de salud para los aspirantes a ciudadanos sean mejoradas.
9 líderes conversamos con cada una de las directoras regionales por separado. El Senador Cruz aún no tiene oficina aquí en el Valle de Texas de Rio Grande entonces hablamos con Casandra Garcia en un restaurante. Una de nuestras líderes que vino a las visitas compartió con las directoras parte de su experiencia de ser deportada con su esposo a México. Por esto le secuestraron a su esposo y finalmente falleció. Las directoras quedaron muy impresionadas con su historia y prometieron apoyar la reforma migratoria y la salud de nuestras comunidades.

Fue un evento muy lindo y seguirmos luchando por la salud, dignidad y justicia de nuestra communidad!

Vives en Texas y quieres unirte a nosotros? Llama a la Coordinadora de la RAL de Texas Lucy C. Félix al (956) 579-1371 ó al correo electrónico: lucy@latinainstitute.org.


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This past election cycle, we saw the power a government-issued ID can give an individual.   In states where voter ID laws were being enforced, individuals who did not have government IDs could not exercise their right to vote.  Several communities were impacted: transgender people, Latinos, African Americans, students, the elderly, people with disabilities – in short, many, many people. These ID laws harken to Jim Crow-era poll taxes and “literacy tests,”  and at the same time increased the impact of fear tactics used to intimidate voters from going to the polls, exacerbating the historic and current inequities that many communities of color face. (more…)

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by Mayra Alvarez

Director of Public Health Policy – U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Like so many of us, the topic of health care for this Latina is personal.  Talking about health care brings to mind the well-being of our aging abuelita, or our mother’s constant use of Vicks Vaporub when we were kids, or the worry we feel when a loved one needs health care but can’t afford it. The Affordable Care Act, the health care law President Obama signed in 2010, gives Latina women and their families the security they deserve.

Compared to other American women, Latina women historically have had higher rates of heart disease, diabetes, cervical cancer, and HIV. Too many Latinas live sicker and die younger in America than they should. They are less likely to have access to quality health care and are less likely to get the preventive services they need to stay healthy. And too often, Hispanic women, like other American women who are the caregivers for their families, face difficult decisions between getting the preventive care they need or paying the bills at home.

But because of the health care law, Latina women can make their health a priority and have more opportunities to keep their families healthy.  Today, more than 6 million Hispanic Americans who have private insurance can get many preventive services without paying anything out-of-pocket.  For many Latinas with private health insurance, they have access to services like mammograms, pap smears, and well-woman visits without paying any additional cost.  Getting these preventive services with no out-of-pocket costs makes it easier for women to access them, which can help address critical health challenges, such as diabetes and cervical cancer, that disproportionally affect Latinas.

Consider annual well-woman visits that help women and their health care providers determine which preventive services they need to stay healthy. Or think of the $20 or $30 co-pay for a mammogram or pap smear. We no longer have to worry about how that money could be used for groceries or gas instead of an important preventive service. And when it comes to taking care of their family, Latinas can know that these free preventive services include cholesterol, type 2 diabetes and obesity screening for men and women; immunizations for adults and children; and obesity and autism screening for children.

In addition, the Affordable Care Act ensures that the nearly 4 million Latinos on Medicare are now eligible for free annual wellness visits and screenings for certain cancers, and may be eligible for discounts on covered prescription drugs.  For the many Latinas taking care of not only their children but also their parents, strengthening the Medicare program brings peace of mind.

Having a place to go for health care is also important to the health of Latinas.  The Affordable Care Act is building on investments this Administration made through the Recovery Act to put more doctors and nurses in underserved communities and expanding and strengthening community health centers. Community health centers are trusted resources in their communities. As a result, more than one in three patients served by health centers is Latino.

And this is just the beginning. Not only do Latinas have an easier time getting care they need, more and more of them will be able to get the health insurance they need. Starting in 2014, over nine million Latinos who were previously uninsured will be able to get health insurance coverage. Because of the health care law, Latina women – and their families — across the nation will have the opportunity to lead healthier lives.

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Last week, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit published an opinion regarding self-induced abortions.  Idaho mother Jennie McCormack was charged with committing an “unlawful abortion” when she terminated her pregnancy by ordering RU-486 over the web.  McCormack is a single mother of three, was raised as a devout Mormon, and was barely scrapping by.  An abortion would have cost at least $500 and involved multiple trips to a clinic hours away, so she turned to the Internet.  As a result of deciding what was best for her family, she was prosecuted in Idaho under a myriad of laws that included a pre Roe law that criminalized women getting abortions and another that criminalized individuals other than physicians for performing abortions, and during her case, the prosecutor stated that “he was aghast at the idea that McCormack, an unmarried mother of three, was irresponsibly and repeatedly getting pregnant and not ‘protecting the fetus.’”

The Court of Appeals upheld the U.S. District Court for Idaho’s decision that McCormack could not be prosecuted because she was likely to succeed on her constitutional argument that Idaho’s criminal abortion laws enabled the prosecution and incarceration of women who have abortions.  The Court relied heavily on the arguments that McCormack’s attorney and the National Advocates for Pregnant Women and their allies made in issuing their ruling.  The Court ruled that women cannot be charged under “physician only” criminal statutes regarding abortion even if the law does not specifically say so, stating, “[T]here is no Supreme Court precedent that recognizes or suggests that third party criminal liability may extend to pregnant women who obtain an abortion in a manner inconsistent with state abortion statutes.”  Additionally, the Court emphasized the herculean obstacles that low-income women confront when accessing an abortion such as lack of providers, financial barriers, and harassment at clinics, and the medical, moral, and ethical factors women must weigh when making decisions about pregnancies.

The Latina Institute is thrilled that National Advocates for Pregnant Women and their partners, particularly McCormack’s attorney, successfully defeated Idaho’s attempt to criminalize women who are making wise decisions for their families.  However, as advocates for women’s health, including the right and access to have a safe abortion, we know that there will be other cases like this one.  In the future, it may be a Latina who is prosecuted under these laws.  Due to issues such as cultural and linguistic competency, geographic location, transportation, income, and lack of information, Latina women and others may turn to self-induced abortions.  In fact, we know that Latinas have needed to self induce abortions for the reasons stated above.   The laws on the books need to realistically support and protect the decisions women make about their pregnancies.  We don’t need laws that further erode, humiliate, and deny women the ability to make the right choices for themselves and their families.

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After various conference calls, meetings and emails, our annual Week of Action took place from August 6-10 with the theme Soy Poderosa. Activists from all over the country took pictures of themselves with our poderosa signs filled with messages of strength, support and love. There were events held in various areas of the country to advocate for the reproductive health and justice of Latinas.

Activist says why she is a poderosa

Ms. New York says why she is a poderosa

We were able to reach thousands of poderosas through our blog, Facebook, twitter and email lists as well as through our Latina Advocacy Networks, who tabled and hosted several health fairs in different parts of their states. Latinas are fired up and willing to continue pressuring their governors until the Affordable Care Act is implemented in their states. Latinas will keep educating the community and providing support to Latinas all around the United States, like these activists in Texas who held over 5 health fairs in different areas.

Activists in Texas hold health fairs

Karen Guzman, our policy intern, at a briefing in DC

Actions like the ones that took place during this Week of Action are important in order to highlight the stories of those most affected by the lack of health resources. Many times, we drown in reproductive health statistics without realizing that these numbers are actual people, someone’s mother, daughter, sister or aunt. It is important to take back our stories and own our struggles. By telling sharing those struggles, we build a sense of community and unity with others who may not know you, but share your same values and ideas. It is important, not only to share our stories but to know our rights as well. Adahelia, one of our activists from New York, shares similar ideas, and has the following message for Latinas everywhere:

“Know your rights, all of them, from human, woman, immigrant, resident to citizen rights. Remember that being ignorant limits you and the decisions you make in regards to the different aspects of your entire life, not just your physical and emotional health. We must take responsibility over our own body and knowing our rights will have a huge impact on our lives. When we are educated and informed, it does not only affect us, but it also impacts the lives of our family, friends, partners and children.”

We want to thank all the poderosas who took part in our Week of Action by sending pictures, flyering on campus or simply writing a blog post, your courage and dedication is what keeps us motivated. Even though the Week of Action is over, the energy and need for relief is still present. We hope you can join us and be a part of the actions that are happening next. To stay up to date visit our website and sign up for updates.

In the struggle,

The NLIRH Community Mobilization Team

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Today, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced a new challenge aimed at developing mobile application technology to connect women of color to information and resources for preventing and treating certain cancers. The challenge, or competition, called “Reducing Cancer Among Women of Color App Challenge”, encourages entrepreneurs, software developers, and others to develop this new technology, which will then be utilized to connect women of color to information and services to help them prevent and fight cancer.

According to the HHS Press Release,  “More than 300,000 new cases of breast, cervical, uterine, and ovarian cancer are diagnosed each year.”  Additionally, “while the incidence and prevalence of these cancers are widespread, disparities in prevention, early treatment, quality of care, and outcomes result in a higher prevalence and mortality rates among minority and underserved women.”

At the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health (NLIRH), we know this to be true of  Latinas and cervical cancer. While mortality from cervical cancer is not as high compared to breast and other cancers (approximately 4-5,000 women die annually of cervical cancer compared to approximately 40,500 women from breast cancer), we know that Latinas make up a disproportionate share of women who are diagnosed with and die of cervical cancer. The reasons for this are many and complex (lack of health care insurance, lack of culturally and linguistically appropriate services, lack of immigration status) and point to larger injustices in who has access to preventive and other health care services.

The mobile applications will provide information  “directly to women at a high risk of breast, cervical, uterine and ovarian cancers or women who already have been diagnosed with these cancers.”  According to HHS, the winning app will:

  • Provide users with general, accessible information about preventive and screening services for breast and gynecologic cancers – in different languages and in culturally appropriate contexts;
  • Communicate with patient health records or provider-sponsored patient portals in a secure way that protects patient privacy and that will provide specific reminders and trigger electronic health record-based clinical decision support about preventive services;
  • Support the secure storage, viewing, and the exchange of complex patient care plans in a way that protects patient privacy while strengthening communications between a patient’s care team that may be located across a large geographic area, such as a local clinician being able to work with a regional cancer center in a major metropolitan area; and
  • Support patient engagement and caregiver support by helping patients and their caregivers keep track of complex care plans with a particular emphasis on connections to community health workers, such as promotores de salud.

The announcement was celebrated by the Congressional Tri-Caucus as it builds upon several months of advocacy by the Tri-Caucus to urge the Obama Administration to implement aspects of the Health Equity and Accountability Act (HEAA), a bill NLIRH supports which builds upon the foundation of the Affordable Care Act to eliminate disparities in health care access and health outcomes for communities of color and other intersecting communities. The Congressional Tri-Caucus- which consists of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, Congressional Black Caucus, and the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus-  introduced HEAA in the House of Representatives last fall, and was introduced in the Senate by Senator Akaka (D-HI) in April 2012.

Today’s announcement is a step forward for Latinas, who suffer from cervical cancer at rates higher than all other ethnic and racial groups. The HHS announcement specifically mentions disparities in cervical cancer and the importance of providing information  on prevention in linguistically and culturally appropriate ways. The announcement signals an acknowledgement of  the role geographical challenges play in health disparities, the importance of securing privacy, and the importance of integrating community health workers and promotoras (who play a large role in connecting Latinas to health care information and services).  And according to a recent Nielsen report, mobile technology is an increasingly important way Latinos access the internet, receive information, and connect to others.

We look forward to the implementation of the winning project and to connecting more Latinas to the information and services that will allow them to prevent cervical cancer. At the same time, NLIRH will also work to fight efforts to limit Latinas’ access to reproductive and sexual health services, in places like Texas and Florida. We will urge state lawmakers to fully implement the Affordable Care Act, which will increase access to screenings through its support of Community Health Centers, expansion of the Medicaid program, and by eliminating co-pays for screening services in private plans.   And NLIRH will work to advance a standard of care that provides all Latinas, including LGBTQ Latinas, will all the possible options for preventing cervical cancer, including screenings, the HPV vaccine, and accurate sexual health information.

For more information about Latinas and cervical cancer, please visit the resources on our website which includes our 2012 Cervical Cancer Prevention Policy Priorities.

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