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Latina Leaders Nationwide Kick Off Hispanic Heritage Month With Call For Action


Planned Parenthood Federation of America


September 20, 2011

As Hispanic Heritage Month kicks off, Planned Parenthood and other national leaders working on Latina health and justice issues are asking elected officials to recognize the disparate impact that federal and state health care policies are having on Latino families, and to oppose proposals that contribute to these health disparities.

New census data last week revealed record numbers of people living in poverty and without health insurance, and Latino families represent a disproportionate percentage of those in need.

Despite the high rate of unemployment and growing number of uninsured Americans, politicians have been slashing funds for health care, with a particular focus on blocking access to reproductive health care, including birth control, lifesaving cancer screenings, testing and treatment of STDs, and other essential services. 

Further, a recent survey conducted by Hart Research Associates and commissioned by Planned Parenthood Action Fund found that 57 percent of young Latina women 18–34 have struggled with the cost of prescription birth control.

In response, Latino families and advocates are becoming even more vocal in opposing these drastic cuts and supporting policies that could increase access to family planning—including the new HHS guidelines which include birth control as a women’s preventive health care service provided at no-cost as part of the health care reform law.  In the past two weeks alone, the National Institute for Reproductive Health and Planned Parenthood Federation of America, joined by the National Council of La Raza, held a joint media briefing to focus on Latinos and reproductive health care and hosted a well-attended breakfast meeting at the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute’s public policy conference.  Planned Parenthood also brought together its Promotores, or community health workers, from more than 15 states for a strategy meeting in Houston.

The media teleconference briefing brought together major national Hispanic groups to raise awareness about the disparate impact of 2011 health policy issues on Latinos, whose rate of being uninsured is the highest in the United States.

  • Destiny Lopez, Director of Latino Engagement for Planned Parenthood Federation of America stated: “In state after state, politicians have been cutting off funding for lifesaving cancer screenings, birth control, testing and treatment of STDs, and more essential services, which disproportionately affect Latinas who are uninsured, living in poverty, or living in rural communities.”
  • Jennifer Ng'andu, Deputy Director, Health Policy Project, at the National Council of La Raza spoke about the importance of continuing to support health care reform legislation: “We have really one message: we cannot afford to scale back and see cuts to health care for any woman in the United States.  In many cases, health care reform provided the most important opportunity to advance the health of Hispanics in the United States.” 
  • Rebecca Medina, Policy Analyst, National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health discussed the recommendation to provide no-cost birth control in health care reform legislation: "Latino families are the fastest growing segment of the population in this country, but they suffer continuously and disproportionately from economic distress and limited access to health-care and education.   So of all women, Latinas are the group that would most benefit from this push to provide no-cost birth control because they can't afford the service.”
  • Providing a state perspective on health-care attacks, Yvonne Gutierrez, Vice President of Public Affairs for Planned Parenthood Trust of South Texas, said: “Governor Rick Perry signed a budget that makes devastating cuts to women's health care, slashing the Texas Department of Health Services Family Planning Programs by 66 percent.  These cuts are going to be incredibly destructive at a statewide level, as nearly 300,000 Texas women will lose access to this basic preventive care, these are predominately low-income women.”
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Women's Health Advocates Urge Elected Leaders to Support Access to Health Care for Latinas