Vanessa Gonzalez-Plumhoff, Director of Latino Engagement at Planned Parenthood Federation of America, is no stranger to small town talk and how intimidating it may be. And like many Latina women, she knows what it’s like for her sexual health to feel beyond her control. Gonzalez-Plumhoff recently explained in an NBC News article how these experiences inspired her to fight to help the Latino community gain access to health care.
As a teenager living in a small southern Texas town, Vanessa experienced first-hand the humiliation that goes along with being seen at a public health clinic when her entire school found out she was taking birth control.
“All I wanted was to ensure that I had the future that I wanted, and I couldn’t comprehend why I was being made to feel so ashamed. It lit a fire in me I didn’t know I had,” said Gonzalez-Plumhoff.
Later as a social worker in Phoenix, Gonzalez-Plumhoff was reminded of that fire when witnessing just how powerless the immigrant women she worked with who were struggling with unplanned pregnancies felt.
“It’s this passion that makes me so proud of the incredible strides we’ve been able to achieve, and yet, all the more keenly aware of how much more needs to be done. I continue to be proud of our efforts to enroll so many Latinos in the Affordable Care Act, as well as our efforts to reduce teen pregnancy among Latinas,” said Gonzalez-Plumhoff.
And while the ACA has granted many Latinas more affordable health care, Gonzalez-Plumhoff maintains that the situation continues to be complicated with barriers to access like reliable transportation, lack of translation services, religious beliefs, and a general lack of information or misinformation.
Planned Parenthood has, and continues to, respond to these barriers with grassroots efforts like awareness and informational programs, including the Promotores, bilingual peer educators and advocates who provide sexual and reproductive health education for Latinos. Programs like these help ensure Latinos have greater access to much-needed information and care.