Fierce

These Latinas Running for Office Are Leading the Fight Against Abortion Restrictions

Last Monday night, a draft United States Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe v. Wade and end federal protection of abortion rights was leaked. Since then, the collective rage has reflected through media, protests and the hundreds of donations pouring into political campaigns running to defend this human right.

“As a new mom, the hope I have for my daughter, and all of our children, is that they grow up with the freedom to determine their own course in life and that starts with their own reproductive freedom. That’s why I’m running for Texas Attorney General.” This ringing statement comes from 5th generation Texan, civil rights attorney, and Latina mom from the border, Rochelle Garza who has her sights set on unseating Republican incumbent and anti-abortion advocate Ken Paxton. 

Garzas’ campaign comes during a time when the anti-abortion movement is at its most persuasive. Just this year, a reported 42 states introduced abortion restrictions and five made those restrictions law. With Roe vs. Wade in the vulnerable place that it is, these numbers keep rising. 

It is in Garzas’ own state of Texas that Latinas, some of whom are uninsured, poor, and/or undocumented, are having to cross state lines just to be seen by a doctor. This trek becomes less feasible among women who can’t afford to take work off to travel. The climate of desperation is leading to outcomes like the one in Rio Grande Valley where 26-year-old Lizelle Herrera was charged with murder earlier this month for performing an abortion on herself. The charge would later be dropped, but this story remains indicative of what is coming.

While this is happening, elections are being held up and down the ballot to bring forth a new wave of elected officials across the country. Latinas are stepping up and running for office to de-platform leaders like Paxton.

This is where progressive organizations like Latino Victory Fund are jumping in and creating campaigns to boost some of these Latina candidates that vouch to protect their constituents from such harms. 

Accompanying Garza in this impressive lineup is Andrea Salinas, OR-06, who will be the first Latina to represent Oregon in Congress, if elected. Salinas helped pass a bill that provides true access to the full suite of reproductive health care — pre-natal to postpartum care, including abortion care — no matter a woman’s race, ethnicity, zip code or documentation status. Salinas explains, “as productive members of our communities, access to abortion determines Latinas’ ability to care for existing children, to remain financially autonomous and to dictate our future well-being. We should all be fighting for our futures and the right to abortion care.” 

Salinas points to discrimination, machismo, and cultural stereotypes as being largely responsible for the barriers Latinas face in accessing proper healthcare, especially around reproductive rights. Supporting candidates like Salinas is becoming crucial in the fight for women to be recognized as humans deserving of equal protection under the law.

Deja Alvarez, the first transgender Latina to run for office in Pennsylvania, knows all too well the barriers she faces ahead. “My opponents are all men. Politics is still an all boys club and misogyny is front and center. Now add being trans to being a woman of color and it’s 10 times harder to be taken seriously and seen as viable.”

Along with Salinas, Alvarez and Garza are 11 additional Latinas who have been selected as part of the First Latinas campaign, an effort by Latino Victory Fund to provide strategic and financial support to these candidates. The 2022 First Latinas program will include an initial budget of $500,000 for the entire slate that will be spent throughout the election cycle. 

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