On January 21, I will be part of the Women’s March on Washington—marcing alongside thousands of hermanxs from across the country who, like me, are deeply engaged in the struggle for reproductive justice. The march itself is one day—but the fight ahead will be a long journey and will require deeper fortitude and a clear vision.
I am honored to march as a Latina, as a mother, as a daughter of immigrant parents and as the leader of the only national organization fighting for reproductive health, dignity and justice for 28 million Latinas and their families.
I march because as I grapple with the profound implications the rise of anti-choice politicians at the state and federal level will have on my community, I want to send a message that is loud and clear: We are not defeated and we are not going anywhere.
For 40 years, the Hyde Amendment has prevented women enrolled in federal health programs, such as Medicaid and Indian Health Services, to access abortion services. More than one in three Latinas is enrolled in a federal insurance program affected by Hyde and are routinely denied coverage for abortion care. Over the past six years, state politicians have quietly passed more than 338 new laws restricting essential reproductive healthcare services. These restrictions and bans push affordable care out of reach for the millions of women struggling to make ends meet—who are then forced to choose between putting food on the table or receiving the healthcare they need.
I will march with passion and determination to advance and protect all people’s fundamental human right to salud, dignidad y justicia—health, dignity and justice. I believe that all people—regardless of where they live, how much they make or their immigration status—should have access to the full range of reproductive health care, including abortion care.
I march for my Latinx* community. In the Lower Rio Grande Valley of Texas, the stories of countless Latinas show us of the real impact restrictions, like Hyde, have on women accessing reproductive healthcare. Women like Esmeralda—an undocumented sole breadwinner and caretaker mama of five—were greatly affected by barriers on reproductive healthcare. For Esmeralda, the shutdown of local clinics made it impossible for her to afford paying full price for her contraception—and, as a result, she got pregnant.
The impact of these restrictions fall hardest on those who already face significant barriers in accessing quality healthcare, such as women of color, immigrants, youth, communities struggling to make ends meet and transgender and gender-nonconforming folks. We need to remind politicians that when they block or limit access to critical reproductive healthcare services, they are making it fundamentally impossible for our community to take care of ourselves and our families.
I can’t sugarcoat the result of this year’s election. The next four years are going to be hard. But let’s be honest with ourselves: The work has always been hard. We have survived years of struggles and injustices. We have always endured, strengthened by the resilience of our ancestors.
I march because we will continue to move forward. We will continue to advance a vision of a society in which Latinxs have the economic means, social capital and political power to make and exercise decisions about our health, family and future with dignity and self-determination.
As we look toward the future and the next four years, let’s look at them as four years of resilience. Our community, passion and vision for justice is what is going to move us forward. And as we always have, we will continue to move forward.
Survive. Advance. Because we can and we will.
¡Si se puede! Yes we can!
*NLIRH, conscious of the importance of gender equity in the production of educational materials, utilizes gender-neutral terms throughout our work. “Latinx” is a term that challenges the gender binary in the Spanish language and embraces the diversity of genders that often are actively erased from spaces.