Anti-Choice Campaign Now Targeting Latinas
Anti-choice group Latino Partnership for Conservative Principles has now adopted the racist rhetoric of Life Always, the group who put up a billboard in New York City earlier this year that read: “The most dangerous place for an African American is in the womb.”
When that New York billboard went up, Planned Parenthood countered that the campaign was an “offensive and condescending effort to stigmatize and shame African-American women [with] a divisive message around race to restrict access to medical care.”
But the Latino Partnership has taken it a step further by starting a campaign in Los Angeles to publicize Unidos Por La Vida, an anti-choice festival, that reads: “The most dangerous place for a Latino is in the womb,” in both English and in Spanish.
Alfonso Aguilar, executive director of the Latino Partnership says abortion practitioners are “targeting [Latino] communities to kill our children.” In fact, the abortion rate among Latinas has dropped by 14 percent since 2000, from 33.5 to 28.7 abortions for every 1,000 women aged 15-44. But Aguilar says it’s a targeted attack “motivated by … warped eugenic views” to go “after racial and ethnic minorities in the country.”
The Unidos Por La Vida event on Sunday drew 5,000 participants, and featured Lila Rose (of the Planned Parenthood “sting” videos) and Texas Gov. Rick Perry, among other Latino celebrities. Speaking at the event is a calculated move on Perry’s part in an attempt to appeal to Latino voters, while his legislative agenda is deeply anti-Latino and anti-immigrant.
Targeting people of color is the latest strategy of zealous anti-choice extremists. These campaigns ignore the real issues of inequality facing women of color, like the fact that Latinas have the highest rates of uninsurance of any group of women and immigrant and undocumented women are often ineligible for public healthcare programs that could provide reproductive care — including birth control — by focusing instead on reactionary and false rhetoric. These campaigns are not only attacks on women of color; these campaigns attack all women by propagating the idea that women cannot and should not be allowed to make decisions about their own bodies and families.
In the past year, I spent some time volunteering as a clinic escort at a Los Angeles abortion clinic that served many Latina women. Clinic escorts help women with appointments at abortion clinics to get inside the clinic and minimize harassment or intimidation from anti-choice protestors. There were regular protestors outside the clinic harassing women, and many of them were highly fluent Spanish speakers.
When a woman who even looked Latina made her way to the clinic’s doors, protestors would begin speaking to her in Spanish and when she responded, they took the opportunity to act as if having a language in common made them friends. “Aren’t you Catholic?” they asked in Spanish. When I countered in Spanish with the lines clinic escorts are taught to say (“You don’t have to take anything they give you. You don’t have to listen to them. I can walk you in to the clinic, if you’d like.”) the protestors would turn to me, demanding, “Are you a Latina?” “Why are you here?” “Aren’t you Catholic? You should be ashamed of yourself.”
Yes, I am a Latina and I, along with my Mexican mother, believe in a woman’s right to choose.
Dahlia Grossman-Heinze is a reporter-blogger for Campus Progress. Follow her on Twitter @salvadordahlia.