Since 1916, Planned Parenthood has been at the forefront in the continuous fight for reproductive health rights and access for anyone regardless of income, race, gender identity, sexual orientation and immigration status. More than a century later, the organization continues to work alongside advocates and allies for reproductive justice.
Some people associate Planned Parenthood solely with facilitating abortion services, however, the non-profit organization also provides various reproductive health care services, such as family planning and STI-prevention and treatment. The non-profit also supports public policies that defend and expand sexual and reproductive health and enrich communities with education and resources that may prevent the need for pregnancy termination.
California does not currently report its abortion statistics to the Centers for Disease Control, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. However, 2019 CDC data indicates that in the 30 areas reporting racial and ethnic information, Black people accounted for 38% of abortions; Whites accounted for 33%; and Hispanics accounted for 21%.
As reproductive justice advocates and allies mobilize against the possible overturn of Roe v. Wade, Planned Parenthood persists in its efforts to provide inclusive and personalized support to communities of color whose access to reproductive health and sexual wellness services may not otherwise be attainable. With programs like Promotoras Comunitarias, Planned Parenthood focuses on reaching the Latino community.
CALÓ NEWS interviewed Claudia Estrada Powell, Community Engagement Manager and Promotora de Salud (health promoter) at Planned Parenthood Los Angeles, to discuss reproductive health and how lack of healthcare access impacts Latino communities.
Responses have been edited for clarity and brevity.
WHAT IS THE MESSAGE PLANNED PARENTHOOD WANTS TO SEND REGARDING POSSIBLE OVERTURN OF ROE v. WADE?
We want to clarify that abortion is legal and, up until now, it continues to be a constitutional right for any person who wishes to have an abortion. It’s necessary to make that clear because there can be confusion that it’s already abolished. We also want to say our biggest fears are turning into reality. We’re in a moment of crisis when it comes to access to abortions. And these are big problems in the low-income communities, in the Latino communities, but also the LGBTQ+ communities. It’s devastating that they might take away a right we’ve had for over 50 years.
DO YOU HAVE ESTIMATES OF HOW MANY WOMEN, TRANS/LGBTQ+ PEOPLE REQUIRE ABORTIONS EACH YEAR?
Unfortunately, I don’t have specific numbers. But, we know 36 million women, almost half of those within reproductive age, are 18 to 49 years old. And anyone in gestation age can be impacted by the possibility of the ban on abortion. So, imagine, 36 million women are of reproductive age and it’s unjust, though the decision isn’t final. A lot of states are already preparing to ban abortion, including 13 which will have activation clauses going in motion immediately when Roe v. Wade is overturned.
PEOPLE TRAVEL TO CALIFORNIA FOR LEGAL ABORTION SERVICES, A TREND CALLED “ABORTION TOURISM.” WILL CALIFORNIA SEE MORE OUT-OF-STATE TRAFFIC AND HOW WILL THAT IMPACT CALIFORNIANS WHO NEED SUCH SERVICES?
Yes, we will definitely see more people traveling to these states. The sad reality is that low-income people don’t have the opportunity to do this method. To travel from one state to another, or to leave their kids behind with someone. It’s truly devastating because if you need a service in your own state, you should be able to receive an abortion and just return home. But in these occasions, people need to leave their state and come to California and get their abortion procedure. This procedure doesn’t always take a couple of hours, this can take days. Now with the Latino community and LGBTQ+ who live in other states, [they] would have to go through this process to get their abortion. It can be even harder because they’re usually some of the ones who are part of low-income communities as well.
IS THE PRESSURE TO OVERTURN ROE v. WADE AN ATTACK ON TRANS PEOPLE, LOW-INCOME PEOPLE AND LATINOS?
This is an attack on anyone who is of reproductive age. It’s something that will affect future generations. It’s sad to think that for almost 50 years we had access to abortion when we needed it. And this is now an attack on both low-income people but also everyone who is of reproductive age.
WHAT CAN BE DONE TO END THE STIGMA AROUND SEX AND ABORTION THAT IS PREVALENT AMONG LATINO COMMUNITIES?
We must learn to speak about abortion in a normal manner, like we do about any other medical situation. That’s the most important thing. We have to open a line of communication with our children, with our families and talk about sexuality like a normal thing. Also, if we have an abortion, to not feel shame about it. To talk about our experience and tell our story, because everyone’s situation is different. As Latinas, we must respect our hermanas, our primas and our comadres if they wish to have an abortion. Maybe abortion isn’t for us, but we must support the decisions of others around their bodily autonomy. The ability to tell your story really destigmatizes the feelings about abortion and that’s what we want. Don’t feel like abortion is a bad thing, but instead just another medical procedure that should be available to anyone who needs it.
GOV. NEWSOM AND PRESIDENT BIDEN HAVE PROMISED TO PROTECT ROE v. WADE AS MUCH AS THEY CAN, SHOULD PEOPLE HAVE FAITH IS SUCH CLAIMS?
I think living in California is definitely incredible because we already have laws in place that protect abortion access. But in reality, we keep fighting because it’s devastating that people must travel across state lines to get an abortion procedure. We’d love for the Supreme Court of Justice to evaluate this situation, and see that reproductive rights are necessary across all states, not just California. But in California we are working on bills and propositions to protect patients and providers of reproductive health.
HOW DOES PLANNED PARENTHOOD HELP LATINOS AND OTHER PEOPLE OF COLOR?
We’re providing a lot of information to Latino and African American communities, resources to help tackle complicated topics like sexuality and reproductive health. We have a program called Promotoras Comunitarias which focuses on reaching the Latino community and helping them communicate about sexuality, reproductive health, self-esteem, body anatomy and overall tools to help better the community. Promotoras Comunitarias has been part of the community for over 20 years and the program focusing Latino and Black communities was started almost two years ago, during the pandemic.
HOW MAY READERS INQUIRE ABOUT PLANNED PARENTHOOD SERVICES?
We’re in some schools, in some community centers, we attend community fairs and give information about future pop-ups from there. But whatever information someone may need, they can call 1-800-576-5544 to make an appointment at one of our health centers.