Each year from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15, Latinx Heritage Month honors the histories, cultures and contributions of Latinx communities. As we reflect on the past year, Planned Parenthood Advocates of Oregon celebrates the strength, resilience and diversity of Latinx communities, from Afro-Latinxs to Indigenous people. We stand in solidarity with them in the fight for equitable access to high-quality and affordable health care, regardless of insurance or immigration status.
This year's Latinx Heritage Month comes at a perilous time for reproductive freedom. Earlier this month, in the dead of the night, the Supreme Court turned its back on 50 years of precedent by allowing a six-week abortion ban to go into effect in Texas — rendering Roe v. Wade effectively meaningless.
As a result of this draconian law, abortion care is now only available to people who can afford to travel out of state. Because of centuries of systemic racism and bias, the people who will be disproportionately harmed are Latinx, Black and LGBTQ+ communities.
At the same time, Latinx communities are among the hardest hit by COVID-19 infection rates and face disproportionate barriers to access vaccines. Latinx adults with low incomes have also been particularly impacted by the pandemic's economic fallout — experiencing higher rates of income loss that lead to disruptions in their health coverage and contribute to health disparities. For example, cervical cancer is highly preventable, yet Latinas have the highest cervical cancer rates.
Let's be clear: Reproductive rights are meaningless if our communities do not have safe access to them. PPAO remains committed to a world where access to health care, including sexual and reproductive care, is a human right for everyone.
This year we worked in coalition to pass a law ensuring affordable and accessible health care coverage for all Oregon families, regardless of immigration status. We also recently launched a local chapter of Planned Parenthood's organizing program, Raíz, which mobilizes Latinx communities to fight for their rights, rally for immigrant communities, participate in year-round civic engagement and drive local initiatives that center the needs of the Latinx people.
In addition, PPAO supports policies that will end inhumane criminalization and incarceration of immigrants and refugees — people seeking basic human rights — who experience institutionalized abuse, harassment and discrimination. And we join our partners in demanding Congress create a pathway to citizenship for all 11 million undocumented immigrants and remove the outstanding barriers for accessing health care.
Meanwhile, Planned Parenthood health centers across Oregon continue to provide essential health care during the ongoing pandemic, with precautions in place to protect the health and safety of patients and staff — including delivering bilingual sexual and reproductive health services through telehealth.
As the country's largest provider of sex education, Planned Parenthood experts offer culturally competent, linguistically appropriate and science-informed programs that help dispel taboos and stigma around sexual and reproductive health.
PPAO wants to see Latinx Oregonians thrive and live the life they want. This month, we invite you to join us in celebrating the achievements of our Latinx communities' strength in the face of adversity. We see you, we celebrate you, and we're here with you.
Lizty Loeza is a volunteer leader with Planned Parenthood Advocates of Oregon who lives in Wilsonville. For more information visit PPAOregon.org.
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