Latina Immigrants Face Structural Barriers to Abortion Access

New qualitative research that surveyed community leaders involved in helping immigrant Latinas access healthcare reveals systemic and serious barriers to programs and services.  As the nation celebrates Hispanic Heritage month, this research unveils serious unmet needs among Latina immigrants related to reproductive healthcare.

The National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health (NLIRH) published a new research report, Latina Immigrant Women’s Access To Abortion: Insights from Interviews with Latina Grasstops Leaders, which surveys community leaders in three states with significant Latina immigrant populations to learn more about community health needs. 

The research found that:

Far from the stereotype of Latinas being anti-choice, these Latina community health leaders said that Latina immigrants wanted information and in some cases services related to abortion along with other health issues.
Some community leaders said that Latina immigrant youth need emotional and practical support in making a decision about an unplanned pregnancy, and some immigrant teens do not have consistent resources for medically accurate, unbiased, culturally relevant pregnancy options counseling.
Program grant restrictions that prohibit discussing abortion and a lack of resources for pregnancy options counseling make it difficult for Latina grasstops leaders to provide women with the full information and resources they would like to regarding unplanned pregnancy options.

“Restrictions on reproductive healthcare information by government agencies are contributing to a difficult environment for immigrant Latinas to find the information they seek”, said Maria Elena Perez, Director of Community Mobilization for the National Latina Institute.  “Community leaders are at the forefront of getting health information to the most disenfranchised, and yet they continue to face political roadblocks that keep women in the shadows of reproductive healthcare.”

Community leaders described the inability to openly discuss abortion and in some cases family planning or to provide the information that women were seeking at all due to grant restrictions and a fearful social climate.  This troubling trend continues as more states such as Minnesota and Virginia reject federal money for comprehensive sex education in favor of abstinence-only funds and more young Latinas are cut off from basic reproductive healthcare information.

Latina community leaders in immigrant communities in three regions were chosen for this study: Minneapolis/St. Paul, the Rio Grande Valley of Texas, and New York City.

During Hispanic Heritage Month, to further address the findings of this study, NLIRH is hosting a reproductive health, rights and justice training in the Midwest where community leaders will learn advocacy, grassroots organizing and leadership skills.

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