The Latino community knows firsthand what it means for the government to marginalize our health care needs. We are the largest uninsured racial and ethnic majority and are often the target of misinformation and stigmatizing information when trying to access reproductive health care.
This is why the Latino community wants to see more intentional political action in protecting and expanding access to abortion. And that’s why our organization continues to work in Colorado to expand access to everyone, regardless of immigration status, age, religion or income. Colorado must not only continue to provide access to safe and dignified abortion care, but expand it to all who need it.
Reproductive justice is not just a matter of ability to decide—it’s a matter of access. And while we’re proud of Colorado’s commitment to reproductive health, we must take additional steps to ensure broad and equitable access to abortion care. This includes removing an outdated constitutional ban on using state money for abortions, as well as enshrining the Reproductive Health Equity Act, which was passed by lawmakers more earlier this year, in the State Constitution as an amendment affirming and protecting a person’s right to choose to have an abortion.
The narrowly approved 1984 state constitutional amendment that prohibits the use of public funds for abortion disproportionately affects Colorado’s Latino community and other low-income populations by limiting access to essential reproductive health care only to those with financial means or private health insurance. Colorado residents shouldn’t have to choose between paying for their basic needs or paying for health services like birth control, prenatal care, or abortion care. Reproductive justice is economic justice and is vital to the livelihood of all communities that have been marginalized by our health system.
To further expand reproductive justice in Colorado, state-funded insurance plans, including Medicaid and Colorado State Employee Health Insurance, must be allowed to cover abortion. Likewise, health care operators who receive state funding must be able to expand existing abortion services, rather than forcing private organizations like Planned Parenthood to meet growing demand.
Since the U.S. Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade, Colorado has become a haven for abortion access, straining limited resources in a trend that is unlikely to change. But not everyone is affected in the same way when access to abortion is cut off. Abortion care has always been out of reach for Latinas and Latinos and other communities of color who face systemic barriers, even when Roe v. Wade was the law of the land. And failure to use public funds to expand abortion services will only increase the burden on the shoulders of those already hardest hit.
We don’t want to allow this to continue.
Community power is at the heart of our movement for reproductive justice, and the Latino community in Colorado is united in supporting the protection and expansion of access to safe abortions and reproductive rights for state residents. According to our recently released Colorado Latino political platform (CLPA), nearly 70% of Latino adults support passing laws to protect access to safe abortions, spanning virtually every demographic – Democrats (74%), Republicans (60%), Independents (65% ), men (70%), women (67%) and across the religious spectrum, including Catholics (65%).
It’s clear that the Latino community wants to see more political action on abortion, and support for legally protected abortions extends to support for other related policies as well. Among them, the poll indicated that 60% of Latino voters would support using state Medicaid dollars for abortion services and almost as much support using federal Medicaid dollars.
And we saw that support reflected in problem-driven motivation at the polls in November.
Not only did about 57% of Latino voters polled in the pre-election poll say they were more likely to vote after learning that the Supreme Court had struck down Roe v. Wade, but nearly two-thirds (61%) of those polled further expressed their willingness to vote for candidates willing to expand access to abortion in 2022. Polling figures translated into the electing the candidates most aligned on the top-to-bottom issue in our state’s vast majority, with data from the first-ever Colorado Latino Poll indicating that the Latino electoral bloc played an important role in the result.
The CLPA and exit polls show us what we’ve known for a long time – that our community values the freedom to choose and determine its own future, as evidenced by nearly 7 in 10 people saying they trust individuals to make their own decisions about reproductive health care. without politicians intervening. And, ultimately, that protecting and expanding our access to the full range of reproductive health care, including abortion care, is crucial to democracy. Without it, our collective liberation remains in danger.
Latinos are a powerful force in the health and well-being of our democracy, just as they are a force behind protecting abortion access by guiding our elected leaders toward policies that reflect modern Colorado values. . The Reproductive Health Equity Act declaring a person’s right to make decisions about reproductive health without government interference is a critical step, but in the absence of resources to expand access to abortion, it will never truly provide equity. And lack of state funding remains a major barrier to access.
Our commitment to uplifting our community by bringing it with us to the policy-making table also remains, and we invite you to participate. If you believe in true reproductive justice, join us in continuing the work to remove restrictions on the use of public funds for abortions. If you are outraged by the end of Roe v. Wade, continue to make your voice heard by working with us to prioritize our values with our elected officials. We must commit to adopting policies that expand abortion access and insurance coverage, so that everyone can get the abortion care they need to thrive in their community.
Dusti Gurule is chairman of the board of the Voces Unidas Action Fund. She is also President and CEO of the Colorado Organization for Latina Opportunity & Reproductive Rights (COLOR).
Alex Sánchez is the founder and CEO of Voces Unidas Action Fund, a nonprofit organization created and run by Latinos working in Summit, Lake, Eagle, Pitkin and Garfield counties.
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