Press Releases

Monday, August 3, 2015

LATINO LEADERS TO CONGRESS: DO NOT DEFUND PLANNED PARENTHOOD

Press Release
Washington
Kimberly Inez MacGuire 202-621-1409 Michael Torra 202-466-2220

Organizations Decry Misleading Attempt to Block Access to Crucial Health Services for Latinas

Washington, D.C. – Today, 12 national Latino advocacy organizations, united in their support for maintaining critical health services for our nation’s Latina population, sent a letter to Congress urging all Senators and Representatives to oppose efforts to defund Planned Parenthood following the manipulated and misleading attack on the health services provider.

The Latino organizations also emphasized the important role Planned Parenthood plays in providing basic health services like contraception, cancer screenings, and preventive care to low-income communities, women of color, and young people. Latinos already face disproportionately high rates of reproductive cancers, unintended pregnancy, and sexually transmitted infections, making access to reproductive health services even more crucial.

"When I was a college student on a limited income, I sought out reproductive health services at my local Planned Parenthood, and faced harassment from anti-choice activists who physically accosted me when I was attempting to enter the clinic. For me, these attacks on women seeking abortion and the providers they rely on are deeply personal. A woman who has decided to end her pregnancy deserves respect and support, not attacks on her or her health provider. We stand with Planned Parenthood and against these malicious attacks on healthcare and personal decision-making," said Jessica González-Rojas, Executive Director of the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health.

“The attack on Planned Parenthood is an attack on the hundreds of thousands of Latinas and others who rely on the organization for quality health and reproductive health services.  We urge Congress not to give in to manipulative attacks. Our community already faces great barriers and disparities in reproductive health and Latina workers are among the most vulnerable in the nation. Blocking their access to health services should be unthinkable,” said Hector Sanchez, Executive Director of the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement. 

“Access to quality, affordable reproductive healthcare is a fundamental economic justice issue, particularly for the millions of Latinas across the country who rely on health care providers like Planned Parenthood for low-cost reproductive healthcare services,” said Natasha Lycia Ora Bannan, Associate Counsel at LatinoJustice PRLDEF.  “Unwarranted threats to cut funding to Planned Parenthood would decimate access to critical reproductive healthcare for low-income Latinas who already face economic, cultural and social barriers to accessing necessary care.”

"Planned Parenthood provides basic health services for millions of poor people, including countless Latinos and also children. Shuttering its doors would result in a health crisis in poor communities in every state across the country," stated Jessica J. Gonzalez, Executive Vice President and General Counsel at the National Hispanic Media Coalition.

“The politically motivated attacks on Planned Parenthood pose a great and unnecessary danger to the Latino community. In recent years we have made enormous strides towards achieving health equity and overall healthcare outcomes. Any attempt to defund Planned Parenthood would greatly undermine the steps we have taken to improve access to care. Planned Parenthood’s legacy of providing quality healthcare services to women, especially women of limited economic means, speaks for itself.  Hispanic Federation wholeheartedly stands with Planned Parenthood and the individuals they serve,” said José Calderón, President of Hispanic Federation. 

The full text of the letter is below:

(Note: one additional signatory has been added since this letter was sent to Congress)

 

United States Senate

Washington, DC 20510

U.S. House of Representatives

Washington, DC 20515

August 3, 2015

 

Dear Members of Congress,

As organizations committed to the civil and human rights, health equity, and well-being of Latino/as, our families, and our communities, we the twelve undersigned organizations urge you to oppose all efforts to defund Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) or other healthcare providers that Latinos/as rely on for high quality care. 

The recent manipulated and misleading attacks on PPFA are yet another political attempt to target providers of reproductive health services. The real agenda behind these attacks is to block access to basic health services, particularly for low-income communities, women of color, and young people. These tactics also create an atmosphere of fear and shame intended to intimidate women who seek abortion and those who provide the much needed care.  

Such attacks on PPFA, a critical provider of vital health services to low-income women and women of color, threatens to unravel the reproductive health safety net that our Latino/a community relies on. We have already seen such efforts as in Texas when the state legislature authorized the “affiliate rule” that barred all Planned Parenthood health centers from receiving state funds. In 2012, the first full year following the devastating cuts to family planning funding and implementation of the “affiliate rule,” Texas met only 13 percent of the need for publicly funded contraception—less than half of national totals for the same year.¹

Furthermore, defunding PPFA would have a devastating impact on the Latino/a community which experiences higher rates of reproductive cancers, unintended pregnancy, and sexually transmitted infections than most other groups of people in the U.S.  In fact, according to the latest statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Latinas have the highest cervical cancer incidence rates.²  Latinos/as, including LGBTQ Latinos/as, immigrant women, and women of color experience system barriers such as cost, lack of available clinics, insufficient culturally and linguistically competent health systems, and discriminatory immigration policies that make it difficult for individuals and communities to access routine healthcare.  For decades, Latinos/as have been the most uninsured racial and ethnic group.

That is why our communities rely on Planned Parenthood for quality healthcare. In 2013, PPFA’s clinics served 575,000 Latinos/as, which was 22 percent of their overall patients. We will not tolerate any attempts to cut Latinos/as off from this care. 

We strongly urge you to oppose all proposals to defund PPFA and stand with the undersigned organizations to protect the right to health care for Latinos/as and other persons of color. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact Ann Marie Benitez, Senior Director of Government Relations, at National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health at annmarie@latinainstitute.org.

Signed,

Casa de Esperanza

Farmworker Justice

Hispanic Federation

Labor Council for Latin American Advancement

LatinoJustice PRLDEF

League of United Latin American Citizens

Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund 

National Alliance of Latin American and Caribbean Communities

National Hispanic Media Coalition 

National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health

U.S.-Mexico Foundation

VotoLatino

 

¹ Jennifer Frost et al., Contraceptive Needs and Services, 2012 Update, GUTTMACHER INST. 19-20 (2014), http://www.guttmacher.org/pubs/win/contraceptive-needs-2012.pdf (showing that Texas met only 13 percent of the demand compared to a national total of 31 percent)

² Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Cervical Cancer Rates by Race and Ethnicity. http://www.cdc.gov/cancer/cervical/statistics/race.htm. Accessed on July 31, 2015.