11 December 2009

Health Care and Immigrant Women's Rights: New York Times Letter by Ms. Foundation Grantee

As we noted in our last post, Ms. Foundation grantees like the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health are connecting health care reform to key issues like immigrants' rights. Yesterday, NLIRH Executive Director Sylvia Henriquez addressed this critical link in a letter to the editor published by the New York Times:
To the Editor:

Re “Coverage Without Borders,” by Roger Mahony (Op-Ed, Dec. 8):

Cardinal Mahony’s article in favor of health care access for immigrants is an important message to elected officials grappling with reform legislation. Sadly, I couldn’t help note the irony of advocating on behalf of immigrants, while in the same breath urging policy makers to deny reproductive health care for millions of women. Over half of all immigrants are women.

The National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health knows very well the devastating impact of making abortion elusive for those who can’t pay with personal funds. Latinas are among the poorest in this country and tend to lack access to health insurance in higher numbers than other groups. In fact, one in four women living in poverty who wants to choose abortion can’t because politicians prevent federal tax dollars from covering the procedure.

The lesson learned from the last three decades of misguided federal policy on abortion is that creating a two-tier system of access to health care is unfair, punitive and harmful.

To quote Cardinal Mahony: “To allow people’s basic health needs to be trumped by divisive politics violates American standards of decency and compassion.” We couldn’t agree more.

Silvia Henriquez
Executive Director
National Latina Institute
for Reproductive Health
New York, Dec. 8, 2009

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