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A Latina woman in Texas, Lizelle Herrera, was recently arrested and charged with murder for causing “the death of an individual by self-induced abortion.” 

There was a national outcry, and the charges were soon dropped.

But are we going to see more women charged with murder when as expected the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade?

As many as 26 mostly red states are already restricting abortions and would outlaw them when the Supreme Court issues a final decision. But it could get much worse.

Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell warned in a recent interview that if Republicans take control of the House and Senate they could pass a national ban on abortion.

“If the leaked opinion became the final opinion, legislative bodies – not only at the state level but at the federal level – certainly could legislate in that area,” McConnell told USA Today. “And if this were the final decision, that was the point that it should be resolved one way or another in the legislative process. So yeah, it’s possible.”

That possibility is terrifying.

The U.S. Senate on Wednesday failed to pass legislation that would write a constitutional right to abortion into federal law. 

State legislators in California have proposed a package of bills to address an influx in women seeking access to abortion in the state if Roe is overturned. The goal is for California to become a sanctuary state for women seeking abortions. 

But we can’t assume we will be safe in California in light of McConnell’s comments on a possible national ban on abortion. Women in blue states like California are not safe and could lose the right to have control over our own bodies.

The Supreme Court and the Republicans lining up behind them are going against the will of the majority of Latinas and indeed all Americans.

Across racial and ethnic groups there is support for abortion with whites (57%) and Latino adults (58%) agreeing abortion should be legal in all or most cases, compared with larger majorities of Black (67%) and Asian (68%) adults, according to Pew Research.

A majority (57%) of Hispanics born in the U.S. believe abortion should be legal in most or all cases, compared to 36% who say it should be illegal in most or all cases. By contrast, only 33% of Hispanics born outside of the U.S. say abortion should be legal in most or all cases, while nearly six in ten (59%) say it should be illegal in most or all cases, according to the Public Religion Research Institute.

Religion may divide the Latino/a/x community but even in one of the most Catholic countries in the world, Mexico, abortion is legal.

In September 2021, the Mexican Supreme Court unanimously ruled that penalizing abortion is unconstitutional. But access to abortion still varies by state.

We could see more U.S. women going to Mexico and Canada for abortions.

Nearly one in four women in the United States (23.7%) will have an abortion by age 45, according to a new analysis by Guttmacher Institute. 

For lower-income Latinas unintended pregnancy rates are more than 3 times higher than the national average, studies show.

We only need to look to Texas to see what could happen in the rest of the country.

More than half of the abortion clinics in Texas have closed requiring Latinas, especially those in rural areas, to travel long distances, as far as 200 miles, to the abortion nearest clinic, according to the Center for Reproductive Rights.

In Texas, there was a 20% decrease in the abortion rate affecting all racial-ethnic groups. But the reduction was greater among Hispanic women, -25%, compared to white women, -16%. The abortion reduction rate was greatest for Hispanic women living in a county without a clinic, -41%, according to a study.

One important fact to consider is that the overall abortion rate is going down in the U.S. Between 2008 and 2014, the abortion rate declined 25%, from 19.4 to 14.6 per 1,000 women aged 15 to 44 years, according to the Guttmacher Institute.

According to the CDC from 2010 to 2019, the abortion rate decreased between 13% and 21%, depending on the age of the woman.

Instead of outlawing abortion, we should invest in affordable childcare, health care and jobs that pay a living wage for families.

I feel outrage thinking about women who don’t have the resources to travel to another state or country and will be forced to have children they can’t afford, don’t want or worse were the outcomes of sexual violence.

This rage should be channeled into voting. If you support a woman’s right to control her body, then this election year vote for candidates who support choice.

Teresa Puente

Teresa Puente has spent her career reporting on immigration and Latino issues in the U.S. and has also reported extensively from Mexico. Previously, she was a staff reporter at the Chicago Tribune and...