Writing at the intersection of motherhood, feminism and my Latinidad

14 November 2009

Aren't Latinas women too?

Originally posted at the AWEARNESS blog

The Stupak amendment is the disappointment that just keeps on giving.
Monday morning, my inbox was flooded with emails from many organizations appalled by the passage of the House healthcare bill. One email stood out from the rest (including a few celebratory emails) and that was from the National Council of La Raza. It was celebratory and failed to mention the Stupak amendment, which would ban abortion coverage in public and private insurance plans:
"The health care reform bill passed by the House is a fundamental step toward making health care more affordable and accessible for all Americans, including Latinos," said Janet Murguía, NCLR President and CEO.
NCLR focused on some admittedly big gains won in terms of immigrant coverage, but oddly the next email was from the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health which blasted the bill, and not just for the Stupak amendment:
While health care reform passed a hurdle in the House of Representatives, women and immigrants were left on the sidelines.

What is the difference? Is NCLR telling Latinas to stand back in favor of the other half of the community?

From an observer's viewpoint, I think it is fascinating that these two organizations are taking a vastly different view of the bill, yet are representing the same community. Which goes to further show that not all Latina/os are the same.

From a Latina viewpoint, it pisses me off. In the Latino community, women/mothers are the center of the family. I see eldest daughters put their dreams on hold to help with younger siblings (see Cindy's story in CNN's Latino in America series) and mothers walking their children to and from school each day. But their reproductive health is a bargaining chip? One not worthy of mention? NCLR mentions the flaws in the immigrant part of the bill, which tempers my anger at their celebration of a bill with so many problems. But there is no mention of Stupak at all. This invisibility hurts.

I honestly don't believe we can get undocumented immigrants covered, hell, we can barely get documented ones covered, but I do expect that women's full range of health care needs to be covered, and I wish the Latino community felt the same.

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