Latinas operating a Planned Parenthood clinic in El Paso, Texas, are pushing back against the state’s new abortion ban. The law is considered by many to be the most restrictive in the country.
- Latinas running a Planned Parenthood clinic in El Paso, Texas are pushing back against the state's new abortion ban SB-8, a law, considered by many to be the most restrictive in the country.
- The law makes it illegal to terminate pregnancies after six weeks, even in cases of rape or incest.
- So we're learning more about how not being able to get an abortion can affect a person's life and health for years after.
- I don't want to live in Texas anymore. I feel like I can't make a decision for myself.
- Texas Governor Greg Abbott has defended the state law banning most abortions that also does not provide exceptions for cases of rape or incest, saying, it does not force victims to give birth, even though it prohibits abortions before some women know they're pregnant.
GREG ABBOTT: It provides at least six weeks for a person to be able to get an abortion. And so for one, it doesn't provide that. That said, however, let's make something very clear.
Rape is a crime. And Texas will work tirelessly to make sure that we eliminate all rapists from the streets of Texas by aggressively going out and arresting them and prosecuting.
MIRANDA AGUIRRE: We all felt defeated. We knew that this basic right, that any person should have, is being limited here. We're all predominantly females with uterues. It's frustrating to know that there is somebody out there that's making a decision for us that they have no right to make.
- Aguirre, a Latina born and raised in the border community of El Paso says a clinic-like Planned Parenthood is crucial for communities of color. She says clinics like hers are often the main health care provider for uninsured, low-income, or immigrant Latinas.
MIRANDA AGUIRRE: Some patients may not be citizens. And leaving EL Paso, any which way you go. There's a border patrol checkpoint. So that's an added pressure on a lot of patients because they're like, do I try to go terminate this pregnancy that'll potentially put myself at risk for deportation?
We have patients that come to us from Juarez, Mexico because abortion is still very illegal in Mexico in Juarez, in our sister city. And they're coming to us. And they're like, if you cannot see us, we have no other option.
- Aguirre's clinic is trying to get patients more options. They provide gas cards and funding to her patients to travel to their nearest Planned Parenthood in New Mexico.
MIRANDA AGUIRRE: Well, from El Paso to Albuquerque, it's still a four-hour drive, four and a half hours, depending on which way you go. So it is literally a day trip that patients have to make to get there.
The other obstacle is getting the soonest appointment. Senate Bill 8 didn't only affect Texas; it affected all of our surrounding states. They were prepping to take the huge volume that Texas wasn't going to be able to provide.
- Data shows that abortions in Texas fell by 60% in the first month since SB-8 took effect. In that same month, Planned Parenthood health centers in surrounding states saw a 1,082% increase in patients with Texas zip codes.
MIRANDA AGUIRRE: The fact that people are having to travel six hours to seek care, because somebody else told them what they can and cannot do, is just mind blowing. It's so frustrating.
- According to data, of the 56,000 abortions performed in and out of the state for Texans in 2020, before the law went into effect, over 20,000 were Latina women. And more Latinos are changing perspective on the issue of abortion. A Pew Research shows that in 2021, 58% of Latinos believe abortion should be legal in all or most cases. Aguirre sees the pain within her community when she's had to deny someone's access to abortion.
MIRANDA AGUIRRE: We had a patient. She kind of knew that she was probably past the six weeks, based off of her last menstrual cycle. And unfortunately, she was. There was cardiac activity on the sono.
And she needed that confirmation so that she could also know what she needed to do moving forward. It was a pregnancy she did not want to keep. And unfortunately, her partner was not aware of it, because if he became aware that she was pregnant, he would force her to keep the pregnancy.
- Aguilar says that although her stuff is restricted to providing abortions, they feel some liberty in educating Latinas about family planning, birth control, and taking control of their reproductive health.
MIRANDA AGUIRRE: Abortions are essential. Abortion access is essential. There is no stigma to getting an abortion.