Thursday, June 9, 2011

The Most Dangerous Place For A Latino Baby is in the Womb

When the Black community was being attacked by racist pro life posters, I knew that it would not be long before other communities of colour were attacked.  The thing about bigots, is that they are very rarely original and often appropriate the language of empowerment, to make their message appear as though they are generally concerned with the welfare of minority groups.
A Latino advocacy group is charging that abortion providers are targeting their communities, making their frustration known with a jumbo billboard campaign in Los Angeles, California.

“It’s clear that Latinos are being targeted by organizations that promote abortion like Planned Parenthood,” said Alfonso Aguilar, executive director of the Latino Partnership for Conservative Principles, the group behind the billboard. “Many of their clinics are in Latino neighborhoods and communities.”

The ads set to be plastered in LA this week read “El lugar mas peligroso para un Latino es el vientre de su madre/The most dangerous place for a Latino is in the womb.”

According to the Center for Disease Control, 22 percent of abortions in performed in America are done on Latinos, making them 2.7 times more likely to abort than non-Hispanic whites.

The ad campaign is meant to kick off a pro-life event called “Unidos por la Vida” (United for Life) Sunday at the LA Sports Arena. The gathering will be sponsored by the pro-life Latino group Manto de Guadalupe. (source
There can be no doubt that organizations like Planned Parenthood are disproportionately located in poor communities of colour; however, when we consider that these are the very same people who are also the least likely to have health insurance, is it really all that surprising?   Planned Parenthood provides services beyond abortion, and that is the fact that is most often ignored.  I wonder if these people would be happier if women were to miss vital testing like pap smears, because that is what they are advocating by the elimination of these centers?

The other factor that these campaigns ignore is the agency of the women in question.  Just because someone has functioning ovaries, does not mean that they desire to be a mother, or have what it takes to make the lifetime commitment that a child requires. I say lifetime, because I can never imagine a time when I am alive, that I will not worry about my babies. Sometimes women choose to have abortions because they are already having difficulty taking care of the children that they already have. Others choose abortion because they are not in a relationship that they are comfortable with, or because they want to finish school first.  Whatever the reason is, one can be certain that this is not a decision that is ever made lightly and this needs to be respected.

What continues to puzzle me about these groups is that they focus on removing choice rather than sound family planning, which would actually go a long way towards reducing the number of unwanted pregnancies and abortions. The distribution of condoms and dental dams, would also significantly reduce the spread of sexually transmitted diseases. Not only would this be a positive for women, but a positive for the entire community.  This approach seems to be based on controlling women's reproductive choices, rather than employing workable solutions. 

I further find this campaign particularly problematic, given the social discourse surrounding anchor babies, and the way in which Latina women are often constructed to breed like rabbits without any control. Advocating a program that further limits control over reproductive choices, does nothing to support the autonomy of Latina women.  Taking on the language of the oppressor by suggesting that the most dangerous place for a child is in the womb, completely ignores the effect of things like racism, poverty, sexuality and gender.  One simply need be a member of a marginalized group who dares to occupy space in this world to become a target.  Though some of these isms may not be immediately deadly, a man that is beaten and murdered for being gay is not less dead and a woman who is stalked, abused and violently murdered for the crime of being a woman is no less dead.  The point of the matter is that these children will already enter the world with at least one marginalzation and at least half of them will have to confront more than one, let's not pretend that these isms are not deadly for the purposes of further oppression.

If these right to life groups were to invest the same amount of commitment, money and organization to helping the children that are already here, the quality of life for all Latino children would improve.  Being pro life should mean giving a damn about the children that are already living and breathing, but it seems to me that there is nothing on their agenda that is even remotely concentrated on improving life.  Children need more than to be born, we owe them the kind of quality of life that assures that their needs will be met, and that they will have a little happiness along the way.  Believing in life should mean helping the living.