Poll: Latinos and Abortion

THE premier news source for U.S. Latinos, Univision, had a fascinating story on its blog about how overwhelmingly even religious Latinos are pro-choice. Read on:

The results of this bilingual survey, conducted by Democratic polling firm Lake Research Partners in association with the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health and the Reproductive Health Technologies Project, show that 74% of Latino registered voters either agree or strongly agree that a woman has a right to make her own personal, private decisions about abortion without politicians interfering. Fewer than one in five (18%) disagree with that statement.

Despite the unrelenting political rhetoric demonizing the issue of abortion rights, Hispanic voters rely on their own personal experiences to make up their minds.

Other key findings:

• Nearly seven in ten Latino voters (68 percent) agree with the statement “even though church leaders take a position against abortion, when it comes to the law, I believe it should remain legal.”

• A majority of Latino voters (61 percent) agree that money should not determine whether a woman can obtain an abortion when she needs one.

• Two-thirds of Latino voters (67 percent) say they would support a close friend or family member who had an abortion.

• Nearly three in four Latino registered voters (73 percent) agree that we should not judge someone who feels s/he is not ready to be a parent.

This does not surprise me. It is important to note that in many Latin American countries, abortion is illegal even if the woman’s life is in danger. (See Colombia and El Salvador.) Also, many of the governments are corrupt — with the Catholic Church’s involvement — and there is a lot of machismo in the culture. For a woman to be able to work somewhere free of sexual harassment and be able to decide for herself when to become a mother is a radical idea and a freedom many Latinas enjoy when they come to the United States.

When I think about this oppression south of our borders, I can’t help but think that many U.S. women take these rights for granted. At least women in my generation who did not grow up somewhere, in which abortion was illegal and access to any form of birth control next to impossible.

Of course, in a poll, Latinos are going to say that they rather have families make reproductive decisions and not the government or the church!


Monday Morning Open Thread

What’s up?

From the soap opera that is the Republican primary: Rick Santorum won the GOP primary in Louisiana this past Saturday. Any bets on who the winner will be? How about vice presidential picks?

The Department of Justice has started investigating the killing of unarmed Florida teenager Trayvon Martin. No one has been held accountable for this crime, nor even questioned by police. Outrageous. 

Our Dana over at Mombian reported on the changing face of adoption, including how more adoptions are open and trans-racial.

Also, Education Week covered a study showing that student performance declines with high teacher turnover.

In entertainment news, I saw the Hunger Games this past weekend, which raked in $155 million. I saw it on IMAX and it was damn good. I am almost done with the second book and will probably have read the third by the end of the week. Can’t wait!

Last, but most certainly not least, an update on our move. We are hoping to move back to our home at www.mothertalkers.com tomorrow. You will all have to re-register to the site, which means you will have the opportunity to create new monikers if you’d like.

Thank you so much for your generosity at this point to pay Matt, our bakerbaker’s husband. I just mailed him the money that we raised: $500. I checked around with friends and did a little bit of research online, and the going rate for a programmer in Pittsburgh is around $36 an hour or $1,440 for 40 hours of work, which is what he is going to end up putting in. While he insists that this is not necessary, I would like to do one more round of fundraising to at least cut him another $500 check. Could you pitch in? I swear, this will be the last ask, for hopefully, months if not, years to come!

To chip in, paypal me at elisa at mothertalkers dot com. If you feel better snail-mailing me a check, just e-mail me at the same address and I will send you my addy. Many, many thanks all! And many thanks to Matt for helping us keep the site going.

And — okay, okay, this is the last open thread item, I promise! — let’s wish a happy, happy birthday to our Suzanne! Actually, her birthday was yesterday, but such a fabulous woman deserves many days of celebration. :)

What else is in the news? What’s up with you?


Alabama’s Anti-Immigrant Law: It Ain’t Pretty

The sickening thing is that there are folks out there who would read my headline and immediately think, “Damn straight!”

After sifting through mounds of “ILLEGALS GO HOME!” comments, disparaging remarks about Latinos, and even being stalked at work for a blog I wrote in favor of the DREAM Act, I know that our xenophobic ugliness knows no bounds. A recent work project, in which I published stories by women delegates and immigrants in Alabama not only confirmed my suspicions of rampant xenophobia but also made me feel hopeful about our future.

A diverse group of women leaders representing faith-based, legal, human rights, worker rights, civil rights, immigrant rights, children advocate and reproductive justice organizations are in Birmingham, Alabama right now to bear witness to the human rights violations that have taken place there since an anti-immigrant law, HB 56, took hold. I was inspired by the way these women have been able to put themselves in the shoes of others — something I fervently wish for every day in our country. Women like Tiffany Williams, a social worker in Florida who was raised by a single mother:

The struggle facing undocumented immigrant mothers in the U.S. is magnified by a culture of xenophobia and hate, and it makes their sacrifices even more profound. My mom didn’t have to leave her family, friends, hometown or home country because economic and ecological crises had swallowed any opportunities for decent work. She didn’t have to cross a border in the middle of the night risking death, rape, robbery. She didn’t have to live in constant fear of being pulled over for a traffic ticket and having her children ripped from her arms and put in the social service system while she languished in a detention center.

And Helly Lee, whose own mother and grandmother were refugees:

For many, the American Dream comes within reach and then it is briskly taken away because of our broken immigration laws. In my work, many Cambodian refugees have been deported from the U.S. to the very country they fled in fear of persecution. Last year, ICE deported Chally Dang and numerous others to Cambodia. Chally arrived in the U.S. when he was a year old. He is a father to three young children, one of whom was born while he was detained in an immigration facility awaiting deportation. Like many families ripped apart by our immigration laws, Chally’s children will grow up without the father they know and love and his fiancée, Ria, is now a single mother.

Reading these stories, it was hard not to weep. And don’t get me started on the actual immigrants in Alabama, who, have bravely decided to stay in the state despite the hate. Women like Trini (pictured above):

Trini’s family was displaced by the tornado that recently hit central Alabama, and had pulled together their limited resources to purchase a trailer home. They had been on their way to recovery when HB56 was introduced, and the security and safety they had worked to create for their children was thrown into chaos again.

They soon found that they were unable to renew the registration for their new home, and the fear of displacement settled heavily on their shoulders. Trini found herself giving power of attorney to a friend, to make sure that her children would be cared for in the event that she or her husband are detained. Her children are scared to go to school, fearing that they will be questioned about their parents’ immigration status and that they will be separated from them.

What is the point of this? It is also worth noting that more than half of immigrants — documented and undocumented alike — are women. Women who risk everything for a chance at a better life. One of Eli’s teachers, who is Peruvian, shared a similar story: Latina immigrants have it very hard, she told me, usually escaping machista, abusive relationships to encounter a punitive system in the United States.

Shudder. I applaud the delegates and immigrant women for taking a public stand in Alabama. What do you think will become of these backwards-ass laws?


Random Musings By a Harried Mom

Let’s call this my belated hump day open thread. There has been so much happening in my personal and professional life that I’ve been stowing it all away and will share now. 

First a perspective check: the case of Trayvon Martin, the unarmed African American teenager in Florida who was shot dead — and no one has been held accountable for this! — is haunting on so many levels. He is actually a friend’s cousin and every time I see his picture I see her eyes and nose. I haven’t stopped thinking about her aunt and uncle and her family and what it must be like to lose a child. My heart breaks for them.

I am glad so many across the country have banded together to seek justice for Trayvon, including those who showed up to the “Million Hoodie March” in his memory last night in New York City. Here is Essence magazine’s coverage of it. If you haven’t already, please consider signing ColorofChange.org’s petition demanding justice for Trayvon. It’s the least we can do for his family who has lost so much and given no explanation whatsoever for it. 

Besides Trayvon, the other thing occupying the second half of my brain is…health care. I put together a blog carnival of stories in English and in Spanish on the many ways that health care reform has helped Latinos. Please do me a favor and hit that Facebook “like” button!

I even wrote an op-ed for La Opinión, the largest Spanish-language newspaper in the country. I have to say that one — out of many things — I like about my job is that I get to practice my written and spoken Spanish. I actually know policy terms like el acta de cuidado de salud a bajo precio or “Affordable Care Act”. 

Why am I doing all of this? The 2nd anniversary of health care reform is today. I will be helping out my MomsRising colleagues with a live-tweet chat with the White House today at 2 p.m. ET/ 11 a.m. PT. Please do stop by at #ACAwhchat and communicate with the White House on health care reform. I will be helping staffers there field questions in both Spanish and English.

It is exhausting, but I feel good about this work. And it’s fun. It doesn’t get better than that — okay, maybe getting to sleep in every once in a while would be nice. :) What is on your minds today?


Wednesday Morning Open Thread

What’s up?

I am bone-weary tired. This week I am helping MomsRising with a major campaign in celebration of the 2nd anniversary of the Affordable Care Act, or health care reform. It is, by far, the largest campaign I have worked on.

In particular, I am working on a bilingual campaign to let U.S. Latinos know of the benefits for which they are entitled. Here is a quick glimpse of my work online.

In general, I have learned so much about the health care reform law that I did not know before and can probably recite it to you while I am asleep in both Spanish and English. Here are some eye-opening factoids:

• In the Latino community alone, there are approximately 1.7 million children who qualify for public health insurance like Medicaid or CHIP, yet are not enrolled. Analysts suspect this is due to fear or confusion around the law.

• No child can be denied health insurance coverage due to a pre-existing condition and can remain on parents’ health insurance until 26 years of age. No adult can be dropped from coverage or given a lifetime cap on benefits.

• And this the private health insurance companies are fervently fighting in court: if they spend less than 80% of people’s money on anything but direct care, they must reimburse the rest in the form of a rebate check. They also cannot raise people’s rates by more than 9% without publicly justifying it.

• Funding for community health clinics in the United States and Puerto Rico have gone up substantially, which means that our most vulnerable people now have access to health care.

There are many other points, but those are the big ones we have encountered through our member stories. Personally, I am looking forward to the exchange in 2014 to insert some competition in the market and hopefully keep my family’s premiums at bay.

How have you benefited from health care reform? What else is in the news? What’s up with you?


Shocking Statistic on Smoking

Perhaps it’s because I live in the state that was the first to ban smoking in public places, including restaurants, clubs and bars, seeing a smoker always makes me do a second-take. Whenever I travel to places, like Las Vegas, the smoky casinos and even “non-smoking” sections of restaurants still get to me — I am now sensitive to smoke.

You could say I was shocked to learn how common smoking still is in this country. From the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services:

<blockquote>Tobacco is the leading cause of preventable death in the United States. Today, 3 million high school students smoke. And 1 in 3 young adults, ages 18 to 26, smokes.

Surgeon General Dr. Regina Benjamin:

“Three out of four teen smokers will continue to smoke well into adulthood.”

HHS offer tools like smoke free text message programs to help people quit and make sure our youth never start.

“Every day, 1,200 Americans die from cigarette smoking. Each one of those are being replaced by two young smokers.”</blockquote>

Do you or your spouse smoke? Were you as shocked by these statistics as I was?


Monday Morning Open Thread

What’s up?

First, an update: as it turns out, Matt, our baker baker’s husband is able and working on switching the underlying platform of MotherTalkers.com to keep us there. (Yay!) However, to let him do his thing we should meet here until he is done. Then he will converge the two sites and we will continue meeting at MotherTalkers.com as we have the last seven years. Thank you for your patience and understanding.

In the meantime, I am collecting funds to pay him, hopefully, for a one time upgrade and every once in a blue moon if the site is down. If you feel inclined to help, paypal me at elisa at mothertalkers dot com. Thank you!!

In other news: I was tickled to see this rock video by Daily Kos intern Faith. She is the lead singer with the red hair and she used Eli’s dolls to rock out! We were all smiles here. Enjoy!

Mitt Romney won the Puerto Rican Republican primary this past weekend, according to the Washington Post.

I already see the Republican presidential candidates all over this one: the Springfield, Massachusetts school district will hand out condoms to students 12 years and older with parents’ approval AND handing out information on abstinence as well. Of course, this won’t stop us from hearing about it on the campaign trail as if kids today don’t already face teen pregnancy and STDs.

Seattle is considering canceling its contract with Teach for America before completing one of it’s three-year commitment with the organization, according to 360 Education Solutions. Public officials are starting to question the program’s effectiveness especially since the program trains its students only 5 weeks to become teachers and it is expensive to implement.

This BlogHer story touched a nerve as I’ve shown up to an Aveda hair salon in Chicago to be told that my children couldn’t stay with me. This particular story focused on whether hair salons should have child-free policies. My beef is if they are going to have such policies, then they need to state that upfront. It isn’t fair to the parents to show up to learn of the policy.

And justice is served. A Rutgers student who secretly video-recorded his roommate having sex with another man to share with others — in which his roommate later committed suicide — was convicted of 15 charges related to the incident, according to the New York Times.

Also, Freedom Airlines settled with a mom who it kicked off one of its flights five years ago for breastfeeding her baby. Companies, take notice.

What else is in the news? What’s up with you?